DUNSFOLD, England—Engineers at Gordon Murray Design here have developed a new production technique that cuts vehicle weight in half. It could revolutionize the way that automobiles are manufactured in the future.
Combining a high-strength aluminum frame with advanced carbon-fiber composite panels, iStream Superlight brings Formula One-derived technology to mainstream car production.
“The new process promises to usher in a new era of vehicle performance with the lightweight structure offering greater safety, lower emissions, improved handling and enhanced durability,” claims Gordon Murray, a mechanical engineer who has created some of the most successful race cars in history, such as the Brabham BT49 and the McLaren MP4.
The innovation not only delivers up to 50 percent weight reduction compared with a standard stamped-metal body, it also offers new levels of platform flexibility,” adds Murray. “Due to the modular nature of the iStream Superlight chassis, the core platform can be adapted to suit every segment, from sports cars and ultra-efficient electric city cars to sport utility vehicles and light commercial vehicles.
“This adaptable formula ensures cost-effectiveness for manufacturers by avoiding the need for high capital investment and individual chassis designs for each model variant,” explains Murray. “[Our] new approach to vehicle manufacturing is a paradigm-shifting innovation for the global automotive industry. It is a breakthrough that will deliver the lightest chassis technology for decades to come.”
The iStream Superlight chassis employs a simple thin-wall tubular frame (made from high-strength aluminum) and honeycomb chassis panels (made from recycled carbon-composite) in place of the stamped metal used in most volume car production. Its lightweight design delivers a body-in-white structure that is up to one-half the weight of stamped metal, while achieving rigidity, durability and platform flexibility.
Murray and his colleagues also developed a new type of lightweight car seat that uses the same materials, techniques and technologies as the iStream chassis. The iStream seat weighs up to 30 percent less than a traditional seat and can be designed to suit all types of passenger vehicles.
While the design is aimed at weight savings in passenger cars, Murray claims that the new seat has the potential to benefit other passenger transportation sectors, including aerospace and rail.