Shell is building a concept car

  • AFP
  • Updated: Apr 13, 2015 09:39 IST

One of the world's biggest oil and gas companies is collaborating with one of the world's most respected automotive designers, Gordon Murray on a project exploring the future of personal mobility.

Dubbed Project M and officially announced on Thursday, the collaboration aims to design, develop and build an ultra-efficient, ultra-compact city car, albeit one that is powered by a traditional internal combustion engine.

Shell describes the car, which will be unveiled in concept form in November, as a simple global city car that will "work brilliantly whether you are in a city where mass-motoring is a relatively new thing or already a century-old."

For Murray, the project is clearly a chance to further his own work into the topic. In 2010, he unveiled something called the T25, an ingenious ultra-compact city car that sat three in a triangular formation and which used a revolutionary manufacturing process that reduced weight and materials without compromising strength or rigidity.

The iStream system, as it was called, also allowed the basic three-seat platform to take on many different forms and shapes based on the motoring need, meaning that the creation of a whole range of different cars would be simple and affordable.

Although this is now officially a Shell project, it appears that it shares many elements with the T25.

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Of the project, Murray himself says that it's a chance to explore future personal mobility needs: "I think the Shell car is really important. We can look to the future and see where we should be going not just with materials but in terms of design philosophy and other technologies and take a holistic look at where the future car is going."

The project is a long way from Formula One and supercars, the areas of motoring where Murray has legendary status. During his three years working on the McLaren Formula One team, the company won the driver's world championship and the constructor's world championship three times in a row.

Afterwards Murray turned his attention to the road and designed the McLaren F1 -- the pioneering 200mph+ supercar which stood unchallenged until the creation of the Bugatti Veyron -- and followed it up with the McLaren Mercedes SLR.

However, one element of the new project might feel very familiar indeed to Murray. Osamu Goto, who designed the Honda Formula One engines that powered those McLaren cars to victory, is also involved in the project as the car's engine designer.

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