Gordon Murray's T27 Is the Most Efficient Car in the World
If you've heard of Gordon Murray, then you're probably over 40 and interested in motor racing. Twenty years ago—when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were winning about every race in their McLaren cars in Formula One— Gordon Murray was their technical director. He was the engineer whose talent made their cars faster than all the others. But the man left racing in late 1991 and started work on a different project, the McLaren F1 road-going supercar, which was the fastest car of its time. He then worked on the Mercedes SLR McLaren, another super fast machine, before leaving McLaren to work on a completely different project. The man designing the fastest cars in the world turned his attention to designing the most efficient one.
Mr. Murray started his own company in July 2007. His design with a gas engine is called the T25. Later, he designed an electric version with the name of T27. The car is efficient in every sense. First, it's space-efficient. The car is 99 inches long and 51 inches wide. It would be the smallest car on the road by far, yet it's a real car. It has front and rear crush zones, and the driver has an airbag. Many people (especially in America) still doubt the safety of small cars, but this one has been very carefully designed. It's as safe a big car. Gordon Murray has already released pictures of T25 after a crash test. Occupants would have come out unharmed.
The T25/T27 are three-seaters with the driver in front—pretty much like the McLaren F1 supercar. If rear passengers stretch their legs, their feet would be at the same level as the driver's knees. It may not sound sexy, but it's very effective in reducing a car's dimensions. The actual look of the car is assuredly more worrying. If you think the Smart car looks weird, then you'll think this one is even weirder. At least, it's better inside. Mr. Murray knows what a driver expects to find in a dashboard. There's no computer screen, just easy-to-read round dials. Actually, the car may be quite fun to drive. All the weight is down on the chassis, and there's only one opening. You wouldn't call that a door. It's a large element that starts at the base of the windshield, goes with a part of the roof and the side windows that tilt forward. Ingress and egress should be very easy, probably helped by the fact that Mr. Murray is a tall man. The whole body of the car is very stiff when closed.
Only a handful of people have driven the T27 and this writer is not one of them, but I believe the car drives better than it looks. The best part is that the T27 is a marvel of efficiency. With a 25-kW motor from Zytek, the company which developed the Smart's car electric drive train, the car was tested in the Future Car Challenge, in England, last weekend. The race was from Brighton to London, and every available electric vehicle was attending, including several Nissan LEAFs, electric VW Golfs, Tesla Roadsters, Chevy Volts, and a BMW ActiveE. They were all there.
The Gordon Murray T27 won as Most Energy Efficient Small Car (Prototype), Best Overall Pure Electric Vehicle, and Best Overall Entry – RAC Future Car Challenge Winner. Sadly, all the detailed results haven't been published, although the T27 recorded an incredible (converted) 350 MPG. Unconverted, that's less than 7-kWh/100km or about 9 miles per kWh. This in a car that accelerates 0 to 62-mph in less than 15 seconds, with a 100-mile range.
Mr Murray has invented a new manufacturing process for the T27. Producing it would require much less investment than a normal car. Let's hope he can license it so he can keep on designing other great cars.
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