How to build a people's car from scratch: the finished product


The P42’s interior and exterior design is principally the work of four young Coventry Transport Design graduates (Aadil Hafiz, Michael Mills, Ben Martin and Danny Alvarez), who have worked for the past three months at Envisage’s 2016 summer school under the tutelage of Envisage’s practising designer, Oliver Le Grice.

Engineering and feasibility work has been handled by ace software jockey Gary Skeggs, working under the creative leadership of Envisage’s dynamic engineering director, Bill Walsh. It has been an amazing experience.

Here’s a confession, though: our car isn’t finished. In motor industry terms, it’s hardly started. True, it looks believable and complete, but we’ve learned enough about car creation over the past six weeks to understand that it would take three years from this point to resolve the many technical uncertainties, do the market research, carry out the detailed engineering design, find the suppliers and prepare the manufacturing operation that could put the Share P42 to 40,000-a-year production – assuming we could find a car company that liked the idea and had the finance.

Yet many of the decisions and conclusions about the P42’s concept, features and inner workings are mature. They could work. Were we able to continue, we believe we have a good basis to do so. Here are the key features…

CONCEPT

The Share P42 is a C-segment five-door hatchback, close in size and duty to today’s VW Golf and Ford Focus and as easy to use and own. It can be configured as a shared car or a light commercial vehicle. It is a pure electric car of about 4.3m in length because, like much of the motor industry, we are content that new cars 10 to 15 years hence will prove that the future is electric – aided by the fact that battery prices are falling fast, batteries themselves are being packaged smaller and lighter, improving chemistry adds 5-10% a year and much faster charging points are on the horizon. Multiply all that by 10 and we’re in a promising place.

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Our car is much sleeker and yet much roomier – in both passenger area and luggage space – because we’ve included two hugely important features that, we reckon, will be feasible by 2025-2030. The first is deployable front and side impact protection – in effect, compact external airbags that pop out to protect when a comprehensive package of sensors detects an impending accident.

The second is the decision to design this car without a large, traditional fascia. Instead, we simplify its instruments with head-up displays, use the driver’s smartphone for personal settings and music, and give it a steering boss switchpad and a central touchscreen for primary and secondary controls. The airbags, comparatively small these days, are carried in the car’s pillars. The P42’s heating and ventilation gadgetry fits into engine bay space freed by its use of a single, compact electric drive motor, especially since much of its complex, currently bulky control mechanism will be carried in the cloud.



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