What is the car of the future? That is what participants come to find out, at the Brighton to London Future Car Challenge. In the more reknowned London to Brighton rally, cars built before 1905 commemorate the "Emancipation Run" of 1896, which celebrated the abolition of the law requiring a man to walk in front of any motorized vehicle and raising the speed limit from 4mph to 14mph (gasp!).
It is only fitting, then, that the cars of the future leave Brighton on the reverse route of the cars of the past. But the award goes not to the car that reaches London first. The winner of the Car of the Future Challenge arrives with the least amount of energy expended. This year's winner, Formula One designer Gordon Murray, praises the event:
It is the first time we have showcased the T.27 on the UK roads. This is the only event in the world that demonstrates real cars, in real conditions, that is measured independently and in the public eye. It’s a fantastic showcase for technology.
T.27 Electric Car Tops the Future Car Challenge
Although the Gordon Murray T.27 electric car -- pictured above next to last year's winner the Gordon Murray T.25 gas-powered car -- may appear peculiar to the American eye, Europeans accustomed to FIAT 500s and Smarts for Two in traffic will hardly raise an eyebrow at the ultra-light car design. Those worried about becoming a splotch on an SUV tire will be reassured to know that the T.27's monocoque construction protects passengers in a crash with the technology of a racecar.
Murray put his years of experience pioneering weight-saving composites for F1 racing into the car that won accolades as 'Most Energy Efficient Small Car (Prototype)', 'Best Overall Pure Electric Vehicle', and 'Best Overall Entry – RAC Future Car Challenge Winner' in 2011 by transporting two people 57.13 miles from Brighton to London on only 7 kilowatt-hours of energy (350 mpg equivalent).
Cool ConversionsThe Windreich E (EV) scores second with 8.5 kilowatt-hours energy usage: the German wind power company Windreich turned a classic Jaguar E-type into an eco-friendly sports car, winning the gong for 'Most Energy Efficient Sports Car (Prototype)'.
A Smart Fortwo coupe converted by the Electric Vehicles Company landed third place (beating out Mercedes-Benz's own entries), with 9.7 kilowatt-hours, and got the title of 'Most Energy Efficient Small Car (Production)' title.
The Big Eco-Car NamesThe Volkswagen Golf Blue-e-motion EV couldn't break the 10kw-hr barrier, but still came in fourth overall. That was enough to win 'Most Energy Efficient Regular Car (Prototype)'.
Small Names Win BigBut the most interesting outcome of the race was the success of small firms and privateers against the big name auto companies. Nine of the top ten finishers become names to watch as the fast-evolving field of future transport grows. Winners in all categories are given below, and you can compare the energy used by all participants over at Autocar.
- Most Energy Efficient Small Car (Production) - No. 2, Smart fortwo electric coupe
- Most Energy Efficient Small Car (Prototype) - No. 27, T.27 Gordon Murray Design
- Most Energy Efficient Regular Car (Production) - No. 3, Nissan Leaf
- Most Energy Efficient Regular Car (Prototype) - No. 43, VW Gold Blue e-motion
- Most Energy Efficient Large Car (Production) - No. 42, Peugeot 508 e-HDI
- Most Energy Efficient Sports Car (Production) - No. 18, Tesla Roadster
- Most Energy Efficient Sports Car (Prototype) - No. 54, Jaguar E-Type
- Most Energy Efficient Multi-Purpose (Prototype) - No. 41, Proton Exora REEV
- Most Energy Efficient Light Commercial Vehicle (Production) - No. 46, Mercedes Benz, Vito E-Cell
- Most Energy Efficient Light Commercial Vehicle (Prototype) - No. 62, Citroen Nemo Van Electric
- Best Overall Pure Electric Vehicle - No. 27, T.27 Gordon Murray Design
- Best Overall Extended Range/Plug-In Hybrid (E-REV, PHEV) Vehicle - No. 41, Proton Exora REEV and No. 21, Toyota Prius Plus-In Hybrid
- Best Overall Hybrid (HV, HEV) Vehicle - No. 68, Oaktec Honda Insight Rally Car
- Best Overall Combustion Engine (ICE) Vehicle - No. 67, Mini Cooper D Olympic Edition
- Best Overall Vehicle On Sale At Time Of Event - No. 3, Nissan Leaf
- Best Overall Private Entry - No. 8, Lotus Elise S1 Electric
- Best Overall Entry - RAC Future Car Challenge Winner, no. 27, T.27 Gordon Murray Design
- People's Choice - No. 44, Delta E4 Coupe