McLaren F1 Developer Designs New Auto Driving 100 MPH on 96 MPG

May 29, 2012

Bloomberg Markets Magazine profiles an auto icon

Gordon Murray’s quest to reinvent automaking started in a traffic jam.

Murray, the legendary former designer of Formula One race cars, was driving to work in the London suburbs in 1993 when he hit gridlock. Surrounded by gas-guzzling sedans, he vowed to someday make small, efficient vehicles that would ease congestion and become stylish objects of desire, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its July issue.

On a misty March morning 19 years later, he swings open a metal door in a gymnasium-sized workshop south of London.

“There they are,” Murray, 65, says with a fatherly smile.

Murray’s cube-shaped city cars, parked in the middle of the floor, look like oversize toys: At 8 feet (2.4 meters) in length, they are 11 inches shorter than Daimler AG’s (DAI) Smart microcar. Sporting chiseled side panels that swoosh back from the front wheels like air currents, they exude quickness and agility.

The matte-black T.25, with a 51-horsepower, three-cylinder engine, goes 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour. It gets 96 miles to the U.K. gallon (1.2 U.S. gallons) compared with 72 mpg for the Smart Pulse coupe in Europe. The cobalt-blue T.27, propelled by a lithium-ion battery and a 25-kilowatt electric motor, can go 100 miles on about $1.06 of power.

Murray built these prototypes in an audacious bid to overturn the way automobiles have been designed, assembled and sold for the past 100 years.

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