Gordon Murray Design and engineering firm Zytek have been awarded a government grant worth four and a half million pounds to develop an electric three-seat city car called the T27.
The Technology Strategy Board's grant will go halfway to meeting a £9m budget that is expected to deliver four prototypes by February 2011. It is hoped this will eventually pave the way for a UK production base.
The joint venture will build on expertise gained in the development of the T25, a sustainable city car project from the Surrey-based design firm, for which the company claims a 63% improvement on cradle-to-grave emissions compared to the average car. It now hopes that the T27 will achieve a 27% improvement compared to other electric cars.
The secret behind this increased efficiency is something called iStream, a new production process developed by ex-McLaren designer Gordon Murray. It builds on principles of sustainable design developed on the T25 project, but applies them to a new electric car design. Zytek will provide a custom-designed lightweight drivetrain for the project.
'More often than not, the UK has been responsible for innovative concepts and technologies only to have the end benefits seen abroad,' Murray said. 'In this case, we're all working together to keep the technology and the production in this country.'
Zytek automotive sales and marketing director Steve Tremble added: 'As well as supporting the development of a new family of E-Drives, [the project] will show what can be achieved when the vehicle design is optimised for zero emissions propulsion.'