For me, the RAC Brighton to London Future Car Challenge on Saturday 6th November was significant in three areas:
The first being that this unique and forward thinking event demonstrated to the automotive world and to the motorist where fantasy stops and reality starts. The challenge was open to all types of production, pre-production and prototype vehicles and all types of propulsion technologies. All the ‘real world’ opportunities participated whilst none of the fantasy show cars and their associated efficiency claims made an appearance.
The second area is that the fuel consumption and efficiency figures are also ‘real world’. Yes, surely every competitor is driving both carefully and frugally but it is a level playing field with nowhere to hide! We are all too frequently misled by the official combined cycle figures which are on average 27% better than anything we can achieve. In normal road conditions, and these are not always proportional when comparing vehicle to vehicle as some manufacturers are better than others for optimising the vehicles, for the official test in the RAC challenge one can truly judge efficiency vehicle to vehicle.
The third area of interest is that of the 63 participants only two represented light weight as a route to efficiency, reduced consumption and emissions. One of these being the Lotus Elise which won the most economic sports car category and the other being the T.25.
Where light weight was the largest part of our armoury against the other internal combustion engine participants, interestingly T.25 won using a petrol engine alongside the eight other entrants to the same categories who were using diesel engines. We calculated, using a sample of 16 small passenger cars, an average efficiency increase of 27% for diesel over petrol which means the lightweight philosophy of the T.25 that achieved 96mpg with petrol could have recorded 131mpg if it had been powered by diesel!
I believe that T.25’s win in both its categories C.1 – Most Economic Small Passenger ICE Vehicle and C.2 – Most Economic and Environment Friendly Small Passenger ICE Vehicle is a victory for the principal of efficiency through lightweight. Any future powertrain technology when combined with a safe, lightweight structure as delivered by Gordon Murray Design’s iStream® manufacturing technology will have a compounded environmental benefit.
Driving the T.25 in London traffic for the first time I felt as though I was ‘Driving the Future’. A small footprint, lightweight car with good visibility felt like a huge step forward in our fight against congestion and pollution – the 96mpg was just a bonus!