Gordon Murray Designs try their hand at an urban commuter.
Gordon Murray usually designs expensive supercars, but now is trying his hand at a teensy little urban autonomous electric car, actually a quadracycle. That's a special classification of vehicle that weighs less than 450 kg and goes no faster than 65 km/hr (60 MPH). Batteries are heavy, but Gordon Murray Designs' cars are really light, so they have created "an ultra-lightweight body structure that delivers a vehicle that is compact, refined, safe and versatile, while remaining capable of significant range (100 Km)." Unlike so many American electric vehicles that keep getting heavier, the quadracycle definition concentrates the mind. Professor Murray explains:
“MOTIV has the potential to transform future mobility. The best way to make any vehicle commercially viable and cost-effective, while delivering first-class efficiency, is to make it as light as it can be while retaining the highest levels of safety. With MOTIV we have used our iStream® technologies to create an ultra-lightweight body structure that delivers a vehicle that is compact, refined, safe and versatile, while remaining capable of significant range.”
It's really small, just over 4 feet wide and eight feet long. But as the director of "mobility consultant" ItMoves notes, “The MOTIV design philosophy is based on three points: small footprint, first class interior, and a city-friendly image. The small size takes advantage of the fact that most people commute and move around by themselves."
This is sort of the approach that was originally taken by Google/Waymo when they designed their adorable little Firefly, a tiny vehicle specifically designed for autonomy. As Gordon Murray notes, converting existing car designs "has obvious compromises – conventional vehicles are comparatively large, cumbersome and inefficient."
It's got a liquid-cooled 17.3kWh battery that can charge to 80 percent in 40 minutes, and a 20kW motor (which is odd since the quadracycle limit is 15kW), and it does 0 to 60 km in 7.5 seconds, which is about a quarter of what the Hummer EV will do.
It is all designed for safety, meeting M1 car standards in crash tests, and for minimum weight, but the windows seem weird, so tiny, I wonder if it wouldn't be claustrophobic inside. Why such teensy windows on such a teensy car? Short people like me might not even be able to see out.
Gordon Murray Designs is planning to do slightly larger versions for deliveries and that can accommodate wheelchairs. It's an interesting idea that could use less power and move more people.