Feeds

Axon takes 100mpg wonder car for a spin

Carbon auto has half CO2 emissions

Business security measures using SSL

It's just a car. it's called Axon, and it's just a car. It has a petrol engine, four wheels. So why is it supposed to be the greenest breakthrough in the automotive sector?

"Because it can do 100 miles to the gallon with less than half the CO2 emissions of an average car," said Steven Cousins, the founder of Axon.

Axon Automotive, a new British car company – no seriously - has built its first model out of carbon fibre. The engine is made of metal, yes, but almost everything else is carbon: The chassis, the structure, even the body.

Axon's pitch to investors, here at the St John's Innovation day in Cambridge, is pretty simple: Tooling.

"Massive tooling costs are the main problem we're solving. Tooling costs of a new design steel car are around £100m," Axon founder Steve Cousins told financiers. "We're a fraction of that, which is why we can get started with quite small production runs."

The engine is innovative, of course, but it's someone else's bright idea - a two-cylinder, 500 cc block, and tiny, at 26 kg. It was designed by Ptech in Norfolk, and it's pretty high-tech, for all that. If something goes wrong, you send the engine to Norfolk, where they read the built-in black box, discover what the fault was, and send you a new one back while they fix the old one.

"We took a different approach to improving energy efficiency – which normally focuses on different fuels – by marrying the best of old and new technology to create a lightweight, aerodynamic car that is also recycleable," said Cousins.

"There is lots of inefficiency built into a standard car, and the two main sources are the weight of the vehicle and relatively poor aerodynamics, both of which we have addressed.

"Because manufacturers have responded to public concerns by changing energy sources we have seen electric and hybrid cars emerge. But this has led to cars becoming heavier and more consumptive than is necessary," he said.

So the car is recycleable. Previously, carbon fibre wasn't thought of as good for recycling, but Cousins thinks they've cracked that.

And the upholstery? It's recycled already. Presumably by standing outside Canary Wharf and collecting Lehman execs cast-offs, they've made the seat covers from old pin-stripe suits and jeans.

Let's hope they get better publicity in the future than their only headline so far, which was the sad story of how they called the company CoreTex (pun on brain design and carbon tech) and had the name "stolen" by a large American corporation.

"We came up with the name Axon," he says. "It has a similar brain connotation - to do with nerve endings. We're also very proud of being a British firm, and Axon is an amalgamation of Anglo-Saxon."

The first cars should appear on the road in 2010, and should cost £10,500 – and should reach 85 mph top. It's all in the shape, apparently.

"As well as massively reducing weight, we have also designed the overall shape of the car to be highly aerodynamic. The most obvious features we have introduced are the wheel arch covers to prevent turbulence around the wheels, but detailed changes over the whole of the body have contributed to class-leading drag reduction."

The process for manufacturing structural beams from carbon-fibre was described as "unique", and naturally Axon has protected its intellectual property with a collection of international patents.

Prior to founding Axon, Steven Cousins was a professor at Cranfield University, where he researched low-carbon vehicles at the Honda Eco-Technology Centre. Axon spun-out of the university in 2006, and one of its first projects was to turn recycled carbon fibre jet fighter wings into car bodywork components. "This was a world first for automotive components," says Cousins. ®

Axon Picture Gallery

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
A SCORCHIO fatboy SSD: Samsung SSD850 PRO 3D V-NAND
4Gb/s speeds on a consumer drive, anyone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.