Dunsfold, Surrey - This is the latest version of Gordon Murray’s radical iStream automotive manufacturing system, which uses a high-strength aluminium frame with carbon-fibre outer panels to create a body-shell half the weight of one welded together from dozens of sheet-steel pressings.
And of course, less weight means it uses less fuel, produces fewer emissions and handles better than conventional cars - and it doesn’t rust.
The iStream process actually combines elements of many construction methods, to offer outstanding levels of platform flexibility. As a former Formula one designer, Murray knew when he began working on the concept that the lightest, strongest way to build a body-shell is using a one-piece carbon-fibre moulding (which is why McLaren does it that way) but big carbon-fibre mouldings are very, very expensive to produce and the slightest change in design necessitates a completely new mould.
So he combined a simple thin-wall tubular aluminium frame very similar in concept to those used in modern motorcycles, with honeycomb recycled carbon-composite panels, to create a basic modular platform that can be stretched from a two-seat city car to a full-sized SUV or even a panel van - without the need for expensive press tools or big carbon-fibre moulds (and the huge curing ovens that go with them).