Friday, January 24, 2014

iStream – A new future for Automobile Manufacturing

iStream – A new future for Automobile Manufacturing
For all the advancements we’ve seen in the Information Technology industry by tech wizard Steve Jobs with his iStuff (iPhone, iPod etc.), the automotive industry is not too far either. Lay and behold – for we welcome the iStream!
Over the years, car manufacturers are still building cars in almost the same way as was built traditionally. It doesn’t matter if it’s an SUV or a coupe, a traditional saloon or a cutting-edge electric vehicle. When I think of an automobile, I just feel they are heavy machines made largely with steel in capital- and energy-intensive factories and I’m sure you do so too.

Gordon Murray, a Formula 1 creative genius, who also designed the carbon-fiber supercars – the McLaren F1 and the Mercedes-McLaren SLR, believes there is a better way. He calls it iStream, for Stabilized Tube-Reinforced Exoframe Advanced Manufacturing. It replaces stamped steel which is used in traditional automobile manufacturing with a composite monocoque (glass fiber) bonded to a tubular steel frame and injection molded plastic bodywork minus the carbon fiber, which is used for supercars.
The Result?
A factory that requires 80% less capital investment and 60% less energy, while yielding cars that are 20-25% lighter — and far more fuel-efficient — yet just as safe as a regular saloon.
His idea is visually demonstrated in the gas-powered T.25 and its electric sibling, the T.27 micro cars. The injection molded plastic bodywork uses plastic made from recycled plastic bottles. Every T.25 or T.27 uses 750 recycled plastic bottles in the body, which is significantly cheaper than stamped steel.
At a width of approx. 4 feet and a length of approx. 8 feet, the cars can seat three people easily or carry 750 liters of cargo. It is a 1+2 seater which again is an innovative seating strategy with the driver who sits up front with two passengers behind. Also, everyone gets in through a canopy that opens upfront — a design that allows the cars to squeeze into the tiniest of parking spaces.
The Efficient iStream Factory Process:-
1)    The Frame: - Manipulation of steel tubes with a laser profiling machine, a CNC bender and robotic welding.
2)    Anti-emission coating: - Auto ferritic anti-rust chemical coating with no emissions.
3)    Welded frame is dipped and then baked.
4)    The panels are mechanically manipulated.
5)    Bonding material is applied and the monocoque is bonded to the frame.
6)    The T.25 has 11 panels, so there are just 11 tools. A typical motorcar has 350 panels and each one of them will require 5 tools to manufacture.
What’s Interesting?
Adaptable: - This process can be used to manufacture any size vehicle. For example, T 34 is a 13-seater truck and two five-seater three-door saloons are in the pipeline. It is highly adaptable from a city car to a bus.
Safety: - Using composites, there is significant energy absorption and so it has the same safety at half the weight. Murray claims class-leading stiffness and crashworthiness.
Partnership with Yamaha for mass production: - I believe Yamaha, with its huge brand popularity, technical expertise and resources could help significantly in the evolution of the automobile industry when it may officially start mass production of the micro cars in 2016 if the board approves the deal.
With Gordon Murray Design primarily being an Intellectual Property company, the onus is now on Yamaha to get this concept reach the masses. I feel that it’s quite possible that car enthusiasts may embrace and accept the T.25/T.27. With Murray’s reputation of building premier supercars, Yamaha’s backing on the concept, the cars low weight, mid-engine layout, with a solid iStream chassis base, could mean that the gasoline T.25 may have more than just a few young-bloods vying for it when it comes to sporty driving, however would this concept be a hit with the mass population? Will Yamaha accept to do a mass production?


  1. Very nice blog Shayon. Keep it up (y)

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  3. Replies
    1. Apologies for not writing back earlier. Thank you, Thapar. Appreciate the feedback :)

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    1. Apologies for not writing back earlier. Thank you, hely. Appreciate the feedback :)

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