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Mike Stevens | Mar 12, 2009

The T.25 city car by Gordon Murray Design - the designer of the lauded McLaren F1 - has for a while now been a hotly anticipated project by folks into the small urban runabout scene.

The T.25 is designed to be not only a cheap and environmentally friendly runabout, but also that it can be parked in 1/3 of a regular parking space while still practical enough to seat three people.

The good news, for those looking for a car that makes a Smart ForTwo look big, is that the T.25 is done.

Well, kind of.

It would be done, except that GMD is not a manufacturer. GMD is a design firm, but unlike companies such as Pininfarina they do more than just style the vehicle. Murray is an engineer, and so his company develops the car in its entirety.

Gordon Murray T.25

Gordon Murray Design has finished the design of the car, and is looking at licensing the intellectual property to manufacturers interested in building it. That not only includes the technical schematics for the vehicle itself, but it also includes the company's iStream manufacturing process.

From the company's press release:

The iStream assembly process is a complete rethink and redesign of the traditional manufacturing process and could potentially be the biggest revolution in high volume manufacture since the Model T. Development of the process began over 15 years ago and it has already won the prestigious 2008 ‘Idea of the Year' award from Autocar who were given privileged access in order to make their assessment.

The simplified assembly process means that the manufacturing plant can be designed to be 20% of the size of a conventional factory. This could reduce capital investment in the assembly plant by approximately 80%. Yet the flexibility of this assembly process means that the same factory could be used to manufacture different variants.

The iStream design process is a complete re-think on high volume materials, as well as the manufacturing process and will lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of the vehicles produced using it, compared with conventional ones. The design process has therefore been built around the mantra of ‘Think Light' and all materials for each variant are carefully selected to be as light as possible whilst being ‘fit for purpose.'

The most common rebuttal to the "environmental friendliness" of the poster child Toyota Prius is how damaging to the environment it is to manufacture, and get rid of at the end of its life.

The batteries contain chemicals that need to be mined, and contain lots of toxic materials that will need to be disposed of some day.

Extracting aluminium, a key material in modern volume lightweight cars, is also a lot harder than extracting iron from their respective ores.

There's also the simple fact that, in terms of total environmental footprint, it is far more damaging to the environment to buy a brand new car that has good emissions than buying a second hand car, where the manufacturing cost to the environment has already been "paid" with a worse emissions rating.

Gordon Murray T.25

With greater attention to every aspect of the car's total impact on the environment, and the fact that the T.25 is designed to be easy to repair and recycle, Murray's newest creation may be the revolution in commuting that the vaunted Segway failed to be.

Now we just need the thing to get built...

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