Concept of the Day: Gordon Murray iStream

January 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

yamaha motivWell, more than ‘just’ a concept at this stage: Gordon Murray’s iStream manufacturing process is market-ready and vehicles – the Yamaha Motiv.e. (pictured) – have been made. Gordon Murray Design has now launched its new website with extensive detail on what it’s all about, but  basic points are that it’s a ‘cradle-to-grave’ manufacturing process for low-cost, lightweight vehicles, minimising energy use and carbon footprint at every stage of the car’s production and life-cycle (a 40% reduction compared to closest conventionally-built rivals is claimed, plus 60% energy savings from the assembly plant itself).  Multiple variants can be built around the same basic chassis architecture, accommodating different powertrains including electric and hybrid, and there’s scope for using various recycled/upcycled components such as plastics for body panels; panels are pre-painted, so no need for paint shops.

Murray’s approach has been to completely re-think the whole car-making, design and development process – as well as what we need from future cars. And quite apart from the depth and coherence of his vision, his advantage is, I think, that he – with his background in F1, hero status as creator of the McLaren F1, etc – is seen as an auto industry insider and ‘car guy’, and is thus viewed with less scepticism than start-up innovators or upstarts from other sectors (i.e. Musk et al). Change from within, a very necessary element in this move to more sustainable transport.

In other news today:

  • Good rundown of state-of-play re. apps for EVs and plug-in hybrids in the latest issue of Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International (p104-5). A Continental spokesman is quoted as saying that apps “will help to make EVs more attractive for drivers, because they will enable more spontaneous use and greater flexibility”, citing functional standalone apps for, i.e. parking space reservation or summoning assistance for disabled drivers, and notes that “the more things that get connected, the more intelligent we can make transport and mobility”.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions from the sprawling suburbs cancel out the environmental benefits of densely-populated urban dwelling in US cities, according to research from UC Berkeley. Households in city centres have a carbon footprint 50% lower than average (transport, including that of goods and services, playing a major role) but occupants of outer ‘burbs are twice as bad as average (I paraphrase). Handy rundown plus full references at Green Car Congress.
  • More from CES: BMW presented a Samsung Galaxy Gear watch with its BMW i Remote app for the i3. Detailed lowdown on this – and its new automated-drive research prototype and camera-based assistance systems – at Green Car Congress. Oh, and it demoed its ‘self-drifting’ autonomous-driving tech.
  • Kia’s CES stand shows off the UVO (‘Your Voice’) system, integrated in the UCD concept with infrared gesture sensors, wireless charging for mobile devices, a head-up display and a 3D-view TFT screen; a UVO for EV smartphone app will be offered, giving info on battery status, range, charging point location, remote charge scheduling and pre-heating/cooling of the cabin. A full UVO app store will be available, including Yelp, music and entertainment options. Other Kia kit on show includes the In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) concept for the Soul, with tablet/smartphone plug-in for social media, parking assist, concierge services, radio playlists plus V2X and V2V comms for hazard/traffic alerts.

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