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Car confidential: Murray gives hope in troubled times

How many visionaries are there in the motor industry today? The last century was peppered with engineers who had a four-wheeled dream and pulled off some extraordinary commercial feats, but who will we remember from the 21st century? In these bleak times as the industry wrestles with financial ruin, it’s hard to see who’s really innovating.

There is one man, though, who I reckon is worth keeping an eye on. 

He’s not as well known as Ferdinand Piech or Carlos Ghosn – the talismanic leaders of men normally hailed as the saviours of the industry. 

My One To Watch™ is beavering away on projects that could threaten to unseat received wisdom in the motor industry.

That man is Gordon Murray. He’s the engineering genius who brought us cars such as the seminal McLaren F1 and Brabham BT46B and – perfectly in tune with the zeitgeist – he’s now developing an innovative city car that could move the goalposts as far as the original 1990s Smart did.

Murray has spent most of his working life on racing cars, but he’s always had a penchant for tiny tots such as his beloved Smart Roadster Coupé. 

Now he’s going it alone and developing the T25 city car.
At just 2.4m long, this packaging miracle is 60cm shorter even than a Toyota iQ, yet is claimed to squeeze in space for four. 

And it’s not some gold-laced rich man’s play thing – Murray talks of a car that’ll retail for just £5,500 in today’s money.

Murray tells us the T25 will be powered by a three-cylinder engine capable of returning 80mpg when it goes on sale in 2012. It’s very in tune with the times: over the course of its life, it’ll produce 40% less CO2 than a conventional car.

It’s this sort of clever thinking that gives me hope in these torrid times.

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