Friday, February 10, 2006

More on the Freestream T1


Well, this is interesting.

Popped up on Newspress a couple of days ago, though for reasons that will shortly become clear I have been unable to write it up until now. It's PR number 2 from Freestream regarding the 1000bhp/tonne T1, the second in as many days.

It reveals not only more exact details of the car's specification, but also spots a certain weakness that a few commentators have attempted to exploit in criticism of the startup - and welds it shut. Or bonds it tight. Whatever you do with carbon fibre.

The issues surround the big figure claims - the power-to-weight ratio and the price, both apparently appearing impossible to some people, albeit in opposite directions. For the former, Freestream is keen to point out the amount of analysis they did in attempting to identify the optimum crossover point between the power of the engine and the weight of the chassis: too light and you risk building a car that is uncrashworthy and extremely costly; too heavy and you end up requiring ridiculous amounts of power, which is no use for achievable weight, cooling, or packaging parameters.

As project co-founder Graham Halstead puts it:

'You can deliver higher engine outputs up to 1000bhp and beyond but that means more weight, which adds significant cost and complexity to the car. Conversely, a 300bhp-per-300kg approach can severely compromise crash worthiness because of insufficient structural mass. An extremely lightweight approach can cause costs to spiral through the use of exotic materials. And less horsepower means a restricted top speed and aerodynamic performance.'
The other half of the pairing, Ben Scott-Geddes, sticks it even harder to the doubters:
'Concept vehicles are ten-a-penny and this is more than a one-off prototype. The only way to truly convince car makers that we have the experience and skills to design and engineer a safe, reliable, cost-efficient albeit high-performance car is to actually design and build one. We then have something to discuss.'
While this seems to suggest that they're bidding for work with established players rather than attempting to break an extremely competitive market with a new brand, Freestream also talk of targetting the trackday hardcore who are seeking an ultra-fast road-going racetrack tool. The projected cost is underlined as £150,000, and it is claimed they will meet this by specifying material based on a cost/performance analysis; there's no carbon fibre suspension, for example, as lightweight steel is better for the job given the value.

Those tech details you were after? Try these:

The engine is a bespoke, supercharged 2.4 litre V8, engineered to meet a drivetrain design target of less than 100kg - and weighing in at 85kg. This is coupled to a six-speed sequential gearbox, which is again bespoke - featuring a magnesium casing and a weight in the region of 30kg. The monocoque's a carbon/aluminium honeycomb, with composite crash protection and aerospace grade steel for the rear subframe.

A 0-100mph in less than 5 seconds is the latest performance aim, which fits nicely with talk of 3g cornering performance and an approximate balance of 500bhp to 500kg target power-to-weight.

The image above is again an official rendering. Still loving the looks. However, the PR's opening line -
'As the world’s first road car to exceed 1,000bhp-per-tonne the Freestream T1 is perhaps bound to grab the headlines' - does rather rely on them getting themselves together before Project 1221 provides an actual working demonstrator for "everyone" to see.

Either way, the supercar scene is especially juicy just at the moment. Only thing to say is an inadequate sounding: Awesome...


Links:

Freestream T1: 1000bhp/tonne [internal]

T#11: The Veyron, the Murray, and the Project [internal]

#9: Project 1221 [internal]

Freestream Cars, official website

Project 1221, official website

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