A new revolutionary manufacturing approach using techniques and technologies from Formula One will “revolutionize” mainstream car production is developed by British design and engineering firm Gordon Murray Design (GMD). Gordon Murray Design has the imagination and it has developed a radical new process of making equally mould-breaking vehicles. It’s called iStream® and it’s a fundamental re-think of the way cars are designed, developed and manufactured.
The iStream® assembly process is a complete rethink and redesign of the traditional automotive manufacturing process and could potentially be the biggest revolution in high volume manufacture since the Model T. Development of the process began over 15 years ago and it has already won the prestigious ‘Idea of the Year’ award from Autocar who were given privileged access in order to make their assessment. The simplified assembly process means that the manufacturing plant can be designed to be 20% of the size of a conventional factory. This could reduce capital investment in the assembly plant by approximately 80%. Yet the flexibility of this assembly process means that the same factory could be used to manufacture different variants. The iStream® design process is a complete re-think on high volume materials, as well as the manufacturing process and will lead to a significant reduction in full lifecycle CO2.
It brings Formula One technology and materials within reach of the everyday motorist. This technology has been the enabler in producing a sports car some 300kg lighter than its class opposition alongside delivering new levels of torsional rigidity. said its creators. The process combines high-strength aluminium frames with advanced carbon-fibre composite panels.
GMD used the process to create a modular chassis, the iStream Superlight. Manufacturers could adapt it for different types of vehicles, the company claimed, “from sports cars and ultra-efficient electric city cars to SUVs and light commercial vehicles”.
The lightweight structure could make cars safer, less polluting and more durable, GMD said, with potential improvements for handling as well.
“It is a breakthrough that will deliver the lightest chassis technology for decades to come,” said company founder Gordon Murray, a renowned designer of Brabham Formula One cars and McLaren supercars. He called the chassis “a unique, adaptable and cost-effective way for manufacturers around the world to dramatically improve vehicle performance and efficiency”.
The structure uses a strong aluminium thin-wall tubular frame and recycled honeycomb carbon-composite chassis panels, in place of the stamped metal used in most volume car production. The design’s body-in-white structures are up to 50% lighter than stamped metal, while reportedly achieving “new levels of rigidity, durability and platform flexibility”.
The company also revealed a lightweight seat using the same iStream process. This achieved a weight reduction of up to 30%, GMD said, making it useful for planes and public transport as well as cars.