22 Jul 2024

AUTOMATION FOR MANUFACTURING

£9m project will use `disruptive technology` for urban EVs

The UK Government is investing £4.5m in a £9m project to develop an affordable electric city car which would be manufactured using a novel production process. In addition to the £4.5m from the Technology Strategy Board, a similar amount will be invested by consortium partners Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive Technology, with the aim of producing four prototypes of the three-seater vehicle within 16 months

The car – codenamed T27 – will be designed from the ground up, including a light, custom-designed, efficient drivetrain from Zytek. The 700kg EV which will be slightly smaller than a Smart car, but with more interior space. It will be powered by a 25–35kW motor and will be able to travel up to 240km between charges. The T27 is predicted to have lifecycle emissions 63% less than an average car, and 27% less than similar electric vehicles.
 
This will be achieved partly through the assembly process called iStream which is being hailed as “a complete rethink and redesign of the traditional manufacturing process” and “potentially the biggest revolution in high-volume manufacturing since the Model T”. Everything will be installed on a bare chassis, with pre-painted body parts bolted into place, thus streamlining the assembly process and minimising emissions. The flexible process could result in manufacturing plants that are 20% of the size and cost of conventional factories.

iStream is the brainchild of Professor Gordon Murray, who designed the McLaren F1 and the Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren supercars. He describes the T27 as “a great opportunity for us and our partners to create what will be the world’s most efficient electric vehicle. An opportunity to start from a clean sheet of paper, combined with our disruptive manufacturing technology will result in a product which truly pushes the boundaries of urban vehicle design.”


At the announcement of the project, UK science and innovation minister Lord Drayson (shown above driving a petrol-engined prototype with a similar chassis to the T27) said that the UK must demonstrate its readiness to exploit the emerging low-carbon vehicles market. “The challenge is far greater than simply meeting stricter EU emissions targets,” he said. “We need to expand our car industry through green innovation.”