New Gordon Murray all-electric SUV plans revealed

Gordon Murray is in the process of developing a small all-electric SUV

GMA T.50 -

Gordon Murray is developing a small SUV project that will showcase his company’s newly confirmed electric-vehicle architecture - and fire a shot across the bows of conventional manufacturers on weight, size and packaging.

The South African-born former F1 designer’s group has announced a fresh investment of £300m that will enable it to form a new division, Gordon Murray Electronics. This off-shoot will work with key partners to develop an electric vehicle architecture that will be available to potential licensees, in conjunction with Murray’s iStream manufacturing process.

By developing what he calls a “city SUV”, along with an accompanying delivery van that will share most of its hardware, Murray hopes to attract companies wanting to build small fleets or fast-track their way to setting up a new electric vehicle business.

Auto Express understands that the project will only begin in earnest in the coming weeks, and it is not likely to bear fruit until the end of 2023. But Murray says he has “done a lot of concept work in the past three or four months” and many of the basic targets are already established.

The Murray small SUV will be just under four metres long - so more compact than the likes of a Renault Captur or Nissan Juke, as well as narrower. It will be available with a couple of battery sizes, the smaller of which should deliver well over 100 miles of range.

The entire vehicle will be built on iStream’s composite structure, which can also act as a battery mounting and crash protection. This offers considerable weight savings over conventional pressed-steal construction, and when these are fed into the overall vehicle the car could end up weighing around 25 per cent less than a conventional small EV. Murray says the goal is one tonne - whereas even a small-battery edition of the Hyundai Kona weighs 1,535kg.

“We want to sell this to a partner on the way, so it can’t be ugly,” Murray said. “It’s going to look good but it’ll be driven by usual packaging and aerodynamics as well. We actually looked at a city SUV for a customer some years ago. I did the concept for that so I’ve got a very good package in mind, which I’d like to apply. It’s a different package from anything else out there at the moment.

“It’ll be easy to park and very manoeuvrable, and of course, it’s light so there are no big tyres. And from a styling point of view, yes, there’s a bit of urban influence too, because putting my marketing hat on, it has to be attractive to different age groups.

“The production car also has to be adaptable for the van, so you’ve got to be very careful where you put the B-pillar [usually at the back edge of the front doors] to maximise the space [in the van]. We don’t want to change any underpinnings between the passenger car and the delivery van, and that’s the challenge I love: how far forward can we get the B-pillar, without compromising the passenger car.”

Of the ambitious weight target, Murray said, “Too many people end up going down a bad spiral on weight, then adding battery to compensate on range, which adds further weight. With iStream’s construction we have an opportunity to show what is possible when you start, from scratch, by going down a good spiral on weight.”

Murray also says the new model will bear no resemblance to the T.27, the tiny three-seat city car that the company developed almost a decade ago. “I think Smart have proved over the years that the market for something like T.27 was limited,” Murray told us. “With the SUV we want to go more mainstream; it’s the sort of car I could see myself buying for my wife.”

The new Electronics division will have three core functions - to develop a platform that Gordon Murray Design can then franchise, support Gordon Murray Automotive with future powertrains and, by 2025, become a consultancy offering expertise to other businesses.

“More and more people looking for a platform,” Murray said. “A lot of these companies are offering ‘skateboard EV platforms’, but when you dig down, there’s no substance there. A lot of them are pie in the sky. We’ve got 15. years of experience with iStream - factory design, logistics, costings. It’s a great time to invest in a British company and do some hard-nosed thinking about batteries, powertrains, charging systems, and mainly the integration of all those things into the vehicle.”

Check out the best electric SUVs you buy now...

Recommended

Electric cars in the UK: are we ready for the EV revolution?
Electric cars in the UK: are we ready for the EV revolution?
Features

Electric cars in the UK: are we ready for the EV revolution?

We take an in-depth look at how the UK is getting ready for the switch to electric
14 May 2021
'Judging by 2020's stats, demand for EVs is growing'
Opinion - electric cars
Opinion

'Judging by 2020's stats, demand for EVs is growing'

Steve Fowler finds some positive all-electric figures from a year of sales doom and gloom
13 Jan 2021
‘Your car may not be the most efficient tool for your new, lower-mileage life’
Opinion

‘Your car may not be the most efficient tool for your new, lower-mileage life’

Mike Rutherford thinks now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your modes of transport
20 Dec 2020
Pester power from kids pushes parents towards electric cars
News

Pester power from kids pushes parents towards electric cars

More than half of UK children want their parents to make the switch to an electrified car
27 Oct 2020

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k
Thierry Bollore - Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar

Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k

New boss Thierry Bollore reveals that Jaguar will be reinvented as a luxury car brand to take on Bentley, with the design of a new family already sign…
22 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge - front
Volvo XC40

New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950

Volvo has revised the electric XC40’s pricing and trim-level structure, with a simplified three-tier system
22 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review

The new special edition Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 is one of the best cars ever to wear the GTI badge
23 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021