Aura concept reimagines classic British roadster for electric era
A concept car without a brand, the all-new Aura electric roadster debuts after four individual British brands applied their individual talents toward creating a greener car that's still a true Sunday driver. It feels something like a modern-day MG Midget or Triumph Spitfire for our eco-obsessed times, featuring an aero-sculpted, roof- and window-free bio-composite shell, all-electric powertrain and efficiency-optimizing HMI (human-machine interface), making it an open-air beauty you'll want to drive every inch of its 400-mile range.
What to do when life screeches to a standstill due to pandemic lockdown? Why not invest your time in that project that's been pinballing around your skull? That's what a quartet of UK companies – Astheimer Design, BAMD Composites, Conjure and Potenza Technologies – did about a year ago when they went to work on the Aura concept. Funding came from the British government's Office for Zero Emission Vehicles through the Niche Vehicle Network, and the parties designed, developed and hand-built a working prototype of their concept car.
The brief was to create a sports car that takes it easy on earth, both in terms of its powertrain and the materials that go into building it. So the companies pushed well beyond dropping a battery and electric drive in an existing small sports car platform, developing a fresh, new design.
The Aura team started below the distinctive bodywork, optimizing the placement of the 88-kWh lithium battery by splitting it into two individual 44-kWh packs, one up front and the other below the spaceframe donor chassis. The placement helps to balance weight out against the rear motor drive while keeping the batteries more accessible for maintenance purposes. The Aura promises lively handling owing to the combination of rear-wheel drive and neutral weight distribution.
Over top that chassis is a silky-smooth skin that reminds us a little of a cigar boat. It's made from a lightweight natural fiber-composite and incorporates rear-wheel cowlings to boost aerodynamic performance. The lightweight, aero packaging helps the car reach its estimated 400-mile (644-km) range.
We'd think drivers of a car like this would want to recharge and get back onto twisty pavement as quickly as possible, but they'll be disappointed to note that charging crawls along for four hours using the 22-kW portable charger – better make it a full tasting-menu lunch.
Inside, the Aura team looks to mold modern technology in such a way that encourages, rather than distracts from, tight focus on the road ahead. Key information like remaining range and weather is centered inside the steering wheel on a 5-in self-leveling circular display. The display works in conjunction with the 10-in nav-infotainment screen through a single central computer running Android Automotive. The computer analyzes driving conditions, driver profile, nearby charging points and other factors in optimizing energy usage, managing time and directing drivers to charging stations along the route.
The Aura team revealed its concept car at this week's CENEX Low Carbon Vehicle Show at the Millbrook Proving Grounds. It plans to take it to additional events throughout the remainder of 2021, building toward a test drive from Edinburgh to London. Those interested can follow the project's progress at the website linked below and via Instagram at @aura.concept.car.
Source: Aura Concept Car