If SUVs are the bane of energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly design, then a car under development by a United Kingdom company called Gordon Murray Design is their savior. Code-named the T25, the diminutive new vehicle promises to be cheaper and more fuel efficient than even cars like the Prius, which averages around 50 miles per gallon.
According to a recent progress report by the company, the T25 will require less material than other cars for construction, reducing both costs and the greenhouse gases emitted during fabrication; furthermore, the design will be based on a standard chassis (the green object in the picture above) that can be swapped between different models. The cars will be small enough for two to drive in a single lane, or three to fit in a standard parking spot. And it could get up to 70 miles per gallon. For comparison, the current average in the United States is around 25 mpg.
Notably, at a time when the world seems gripped in electric vehicle mania, the T25 is gas-only, putting it in the same boat as the Mini Cooper and Smart Fortwo, the latter of which just started being sold in the United States. However, the company says the T25 will have a better power-to-weight ratio than luxury sedans, putting it in a class above the underpowered Smart.
The car is the brainchild of famed supercar designer Gordon Murray, who started the company with his own name last year. The appellation T25 means that it’s the 25th iteration of the concept design — with about as many more to go before it’s ready for the market. We first mentioned Murray last year, when he started the firm with funding from a Silicon Valley investor, Mohr Davidow Ventures.
Murray’s initial release is planned for Europe and Asia, but the American affiliation suggests that a deal could develop similar to the Think North America partnership that has Kleiner Perkins and Rockport importing Norwegian electric vehicles Stateside.
The T25 won’t be the only vehicle grabbing headlines this morning. The Prius itself is back in the news, with a report released in Asia (via MarketWatch) suggesting that newer versions of the popular hybrid car will feature solar panels on the roof.
That might seem like a bright idea at first, until you find out how much power the panels can actually provide. A white paper released several months ago indicate that the solar panels could power a Prius for 5-8 miles per day. That’s not much for the average commuter. For fun, add factors like garages, trees and clouds overhead, seasonal changes and driving at night. Perhaps those reasons are why the latest reports suggest that the panels will power part of the car’s air conditioning — forget the engine.
Future Priuses are also planned to weigh less, according to the report, which is the same factor that powers the T25’s long range. Lowering weight and streamlining are the rough car equivalents of adding more insulation or better windows to your house — less sexy, but often a wiser, and more cost-effective choice than expensive options like solar panels.