After several years of rumors and leaks, celebrated engineer Gordon Murray has finally unveiled his city car, the T25. Without a doubt, it is the closest vehicle to ME in both concept and execution, at least until the production version of the Renault Twizy launches in 2012. So close in fact that when we realized the dream of taking ME into production was not feasible, we contacted Gordon Murray to see if it was possible to bring T25s over to LA and turn them into our shared vehicle. Unfortunately, the investment required was still too high (our 3000 units a year volume was too low) plus we got the feeling that Murray Design was not particularly interested in the US, considering the vehicle too small for the average American.
The common points are obvious: (very) small size, central driving position, unconventional door, separate chassis wrapped with lightweight panels... The T25 however has been developed with practicality in mind (three seat configuration, big door opening), while ME prioritizes safety (better side impact protection) and low-cost tooling (only one side symmetrical panel). It's a shame they have been so cautious with the images they released: I would love to peak underneath the Darth Vader skin and get a sense of how the separate chassis is put together (steel frame over a composite pan, uhmm).
Leaving aside aesthetics (which were obviously not taken into consideration) and certain doubts regarding how the big front clamshell would work in a frontal impact, there is no doubt this is one of the most interesting vehicles to appear in the last few years. It moves the Smart ForTwo concept forward, adding the crucial low cost manufacturing component needed to make EVs relevant mid term. Furthermore, considering Murray's resume, it should be fun to drive too.It is important to note as well that Gordon Murray Design doesn't want to be a manufacturer, and they have decided instead to license the intellectual property, leaving others to deal with the big upfront investment. I am very curious to know which major manufacturer has already bought the rights, and how the final product is going to look like. Hopefully we don't have to wait long.