Renowned vehicle designer Gordon Murray was credited for the McLaren F1. Now, another brainchild of the legendary designer was recently unveiled, in cooperation with oil giant Shell – the Project M energy efficient concept car. Shell claims that the concept vehicle featuring the 'iStream' design is the car of the future, although that remains to be seen. Underpinned by a tested F1-derived platform and based from Murray’s previous creations – the T25 and the T27 – this three seat city car is made from recycled carbon fiber and weighs only 1,212 lbs. (550kg), or 176 lbs. (80 kg) lighter than the T25.
At closer look, Project M does not differ much from the T25 city car prototype, which was created nearly seven years ago. Nonetheless, it is claimed that its development continues. However, it features carbon fiber panels instead of the composite panels found on the T25 city car, allowing it to become much lighter and more fuel efficient. Its lightweight nature also comes from the fact that it features a tubular frame.
Shell and Murray also undertook steps to help improve the aerodynamics of the iStream silhouette. As small as it is, Project M is large enough to accommodate three occupants. It features a one-plus-two seat layout, in which the driver is seated centrally on the front and two passengers are benched at the back. In fact, Project M is large enough to accommodate Murray, who stands at 6 feet, 6 inches. It is powered by a small 660cc engine – updated by an ex-Honda F1 engineer -- mounted at the back, allowing Project M to travel as fast as 45 mph and up to 107 miles per gallon of gas.
Yes, this engine is re-worked to feature less friction for greater efficiency, helped by a new formula of lubricant from Shell. As the oil giant claims, the prototype 'Helix' Ultra low viscosity oil – along with a bespoke transmission fluid – could allow Project M to become five-percent more fuel efficient. Mark Gainsborough, executive vice-president of Shell’s global lubricants businesses, described Project M as a significant automobile engineering milestone.
He quipped insights gained from this project could help them address energy use in the road transport sector. He noted that Project M demonstrates the best of the present technologies – including lubricants -- that could have an impact on energy use and cut carbon dioxide emissions. However, people shouldn’t expect Project M to be put into production, as Shell intends to use the concept to showcase the technology and its potential.