• Jan 19, 2011
Gordon Murray T.27 crash testing – Click above for high-res image gallery

Gordon Murray's groundbreaking T.27, the electric version of his T.25 city car, is one step closer to production now that it has officially passed its first phase of crash testing. It's always slightly depressing to see an innovative and surely highly expensive prototype get smashed in the name of safety, but in the case of the T.27, we're suitably impressed by its performance.

After being slammed into an unmovable object at 35 miles per hour, the so-called iStream monocoque chassis of the T.27 exhibited zero cabin intrusion, validating "160 software simulations during its development" according to Murray. It's not completely clear at this point if any damage was seen to the battery or its compartment.

Recently we've seen that small electric cars can indeed be as safe as their gasoline-powered siblings. Need proof? Check out the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Volvo C30 EV. And now, it appears we can add the diminutive three-seat T.27 to the list. Check out the photos in our image gallery below and the press release after the break.

[Source: Gordon Murray Design]


Gordon Murray Design have conducted the first crash test of a vehicle built with their ground breaking iStream® manufacturing technology. The test was carried out at MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) on a Gordon Murray Design T.27 Electric City Car.

The crash test was the mandatory EEC 40% offset deformable barrier front high speed impact and the T.27 came through with flying colours with zero cabin intrusion and the measured results being extremely close to those predicted by computer simulation.

This outstanding result is a great endorsement for Gordon Murray Design's iStream® manufacturing system which delivers reduced weight and cost with increased levels of safety. The iStream® composite monocoque brings Formula One technology to mass production vehicles with significantly higher specific energy absorption rates compared with conventional bodied cars.

Frank Coppuck, Gordon Murray Design's Engineering Director said:

"This crash test represents a major milestone in vehicle safety and in the history of Gordon Murray Design. It clearly demonstrates that cars built using iStream technology can achieve low weight, cost and significant reductions in energy usage during manufacturing without compromising safety."

The development of the T.27, by Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive Ltd, has been made possible through a £4.5m investment from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board. With a total cost of £9m, the consortium will develop running prototypes of the vehicle by Spring 2011

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      It looks like the Think City.
        • 3 Years Ago
        IMO much better than Think City. This is real commuter car, smaller, more agile etc. To me Think City looks like oversized plastic children toy car.

        To me that is in same class with Leaf, only more useful for commuter because it is more agile and smaller (though if you need space for cargo, then Leaf is better). If I would buy a city car this would be it. It even has more than adequate stop&go performance and high enough top speed to not to be in everyones way into city.
        • 3 Years Ago
        When you are making a car this short and still trying to get as much accomodation as possible, there are very limited alternatives in how it looks.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @David Martin
        Japanese Kei-cars are similarly small but they still manage to have more flare. For example, the Suzuki Lapin manages a retro-look, and Honda's Zest Spark is tricked out like a ricer's wet dream. Both are just boxes on wheels, but they pull off style in the details.

        I agree that the Think City makes poor use of plastic. Plastic can be injection-molded into flowing organic shapes not possible with metal stamping, but Think doesn't take advantage of that in the appearance of their product. Once again, it lacks flare in the details.
      • 3 Years Ago
      would love to see them opening the door afterward.
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's actually a very good point. That car does not have conventional door, it lifts the whole front section and tilts it to front. With crash like that it would probably be impossible to open it trapping possibly injured person inside until someone with heavy duty open anything -machinery arrives to scene.
      • 3 Years Ago
      zero cabin intrusion is actually quite easy to do if the car is not made of heavy soft lead like normal cars are. but there is more to crash satefy than that and that is spreading out the g forces over time. much the same as shock absorbers do for suspension. and air tires.
      with an electric car you could actually have an air bladder like a bouncing ball in the nose of the car and that might be a very good crash safety solution. much the same as the airbag in the cabin.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Having the driver in the center helps -- in an offset crash, the driver is better protected. In a full on crash, it is the same as in a conventionally located driving position. That is one of the reasons I put the driver in the center of my open source design, called CarBEN EV:


      Also, in a 1 car crash, having lower weight is better; all else being equal. So, the crumple zone is proportional to the weight.

        • 3 Years Ago
        low weight is never really an advantage in a crash but in a single car crash it's not a disadvantage either or at least not a big one. and in a single car crash it's quite easy to make a light car much safer than current very heavy cars. case in point formula 1.

        your car concept has some good points and I'm all for extreme choices if there are efficiency gains but in choosing the rear opening you have a path between the 2 second row seats meaning you have larger width than you would otherwise need for a conventional 2+2 layout. you could further reduce drag profile by having shallower seating position. they sit very upright, more than even conventional sedan cars.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Thanks for your reply Dan. The rear door is certainly the most controversial design element, and I hope to be able to test it's viability in a running prototype.

        As for the seating layout, the tapered shape required for low aerodynamic drag makes side by side seating very hard; and there are several advantages of having it staggered. The first three seats fit people 6'-4" or taller, the fourth seat fit a person about 5'-8" and the fifth seat is for someone about 5'-0" tall, or so. I don't think you can find another car that is ~4.2m long that fits 5 people. Sitting upright is actually very comfortable, and allows the people to shift their positions to stay comfortable. Visibility is improved as well.

        And the T.27 is another example of an unconventional seating arrangement fitting more people in a smaller space. The one less obvious feature is the center driver can be moved farther forward than otherwise, and having the seats staggered gives lots of leg room.

      • 3 Years Ago
      Zero cabin intrusion is excellent. But what about G-forces? With a shorter crumple zone, the car decelerates over a shorter distance, and the passengers will experience higher G-forces.
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's what airbags are for.
        • 3 Years Ago
        "Air bags don't stop your hips from sliding out of the seat."
        Yeah... there are these things called seat belts, maybe you've heard about them?

        Seriously now, the crash performance of this car looks to be similar to that of the smart fortwo, which has occupant safety that is equal to or better than cars twice its size. I'll reserve final judgement until I see the NCAP ratings, but there is no reason to believe that this car will do much worse.

        I mean, the guy who built it is only one of the most experienced automotive engineers in the world *rolls eyes*
        • 3 Years Ago
        Air bags don't stop your hips from sliding out of the seat. It's nice to know that your head is safe from basal skull fractures, but it's not going to be pretty if you have a broken pelvis or damage to vital internal organs.

        I'd imagine they've designed it with people in mind, but it does look like crashing would be particularly unpleasant in this vehicle.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That looks amazing. So racing really does improve the breed.
      • 3 Years Ago
      And people thought the SMART car is a scary little ride...
      I like small cars, but this is far too dorky for my taste.
      Nonetheless, good job passing that crash test in something that small!
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