On the day Project T.32 (the Teewave AR1's codename) was primed for its Tokyo debut, the automotive world came to know a firm by the name of Toray Industries – one of the world's leading manufacturers of carbon fiber. Looking around the AR1 reveals plenty of exposed carbon fiber, a visual link with the vehicle's carbon fiber monocoque structure.
Everything – most everything, anyway – was done in-house, including crash testing. The AR1 was digitally designed, with no full-sized clays, says Frank Coppuck, the T.32's engineering director.
A swiped Mitsubishi i-MiEV powertrain sits between the AR1's rear axle and passenger compartment. And although the AR1 only packs a featherweight 63 horsepower and 133 pound-feet torque, its low 1,852-pound curb weight, track-honed double wishbone suspension, ultra quick steering and powerful brakes means it should be an engaging package.
"We could squeeze a lot more out of the engine," says Coppuck, but as it is, the T.32 tops out at 100 miles per hour, has a listed range of 100 miles and recharges in around eight hours. We like what we hear, and think that the Teewave AR1 – screwy name aside – is one spectacular electric machine.
Today Gordon Murray Design Limited and Toray Industries Inc announce a prototype electric sports car named TEEWAVE AR.1
The AR.1 had an internal GMD code number of ' T.32' and the car is the result of a commission from Toray for Gordon Murray Design to design, tool and build a fully functioning prototype vehicle which utilises many of Toray's advanced automotive materials in order to achieve Toray's basic concept of an attractive vehicle for everyone.
The 2-seater sports car is designed to use the Toray carbon fibre component system with a process time of less than 10 minutes. A carbon monocoque, one of the key technologies of TEEWAVE, can be applied to all types of vehicle other than the 2-seater sports car.
The entire programme from concept discussions to running vehicle took just 9 months and was delivered on target, both in terms of cost and final handover. The power train in the vehicle are the base components used in one of the commercial electric vehicles currently available, but the unique electrical architecture and control units were developed by Gordon Murray Design.
A carbon front crash structure was designed and developed for the car. A Full vehicle Euro Ncap O.D.B test was simulated in addition to a rigid barrier dynamic impact. A correlation process was conducted on the front crash structure for both half energy and full energy using physical tests. Quasi -static bend and torsion analysis was also conducted.
The AR.1 has a remarkably low weight of just 850kg (including the 240kg battery) putting the car firmly in Lotus Elise territory and some 400kg lighter than a Tesla. The ultimate performance is limited by an output figure of 47kw but a torque of 180 Nm available from a standing start results in lively acceleration.
A great deal of attention has been given to the low weight, low centre of gravity and suspension geometry which has resulted in an excellent ride and handling balance.
The concept design team included Barry Lett, Frank Coppuck, Kevin Richards and Gordon Murray. Exterior and interior styling was designed by Zachary Seward, Kevin Richards, Barry Lett and Gordon Murray. The project leader at Gordon Murray Design was Mark Lewis.
The main architecture design team was led by Barry Lett and the engineering, composites and analysis team were led by Frank Coppuck, while the electrical system and power train design was by Dr Ralph Clague.
Gordon Murray Designs' world class prototype build team ensured the vehicle was built to schedule and Gordon Murray Designs exacting standards.
At all stages during design and development Gordon Murray Design and Toray worked very closely on the design, use of materials and Toray's automotive applications.
The Toray team consisted of Toru Yamanaka, Project Leader, Nobuhiko Shimizu, Project Manager, Yukitane Kimoto, Composite Team Leader, Yoshito Kuroda, Yuki Sakamoto, Kosaku Hashimoto, Composite Team, Alan Riley, UK Composite Handling and Osamu Goto, Project Advisor from Geo Technology.
Professor Gordon Murray of Gordon Murray Design said:
"It has been a pleasure to work with Toray Industries' team on this challenging project. The resultant vehicle weight of just 850Kg achieved using Toray's carbon fibre once again proves that performance through light weight is the most efficient and environmentally friendly way to achieve power to weight targets."
Toray Industries said:
"Toray is happy to work with the Gordon Murray Design team to achieve Toray's basic concept of an eco-friendly and highly efficient light weight electric concept vehicle, TEEWAVE. It should be viewed as a flagship for embodying our Green Innovation Project in the automotive field."