Aura aims to reduce environmental impact through low-drag design, lightweight natural composites, innovative driver feedback and an 88kWh multi-pack battery architecture delivering a range of around 400 miles.
The ambitious programme to design, develop and build a fully working road legal prototype was funded by the Niche Vehicle Network an independent network of UK niche vehicle manufacturers, specialist technology, design, and engineering organisations in conjunction with the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles, the project started on the 1st October 2020 and launches today at CENEX-LCV 2020
Carsten Astheimer, Founder and Creative Director Astheimer Design – “AURA is a vision for a sports car in this new electric age, a visceral driving experience to go out and enjoy nature, where performance equates to range. A pure, simple, iconic low-drag, efficient design that has been expertly developed and built by the Astheimer design Team. AURA expresses our design principles, our commitment to developing sustainable mobility solutions, and our can do attitude in bringing a concept to reality under tight constraints of time and budget”
Tom Strong, Senior Designer Astheimer Design – “The teardrop design theme is defined by the two key lines running the full length of the vehicle, sweeping rearward wrapping around the cockpit. The design language is sculptural purity with digital detailing.
The front of the vehicle has fuller volumes combined with a low nose and air curtains encouraging the air to pass around with minimal disruption, reducing the frontal area and the zone of high pressure at the front of the car. As the air passes around the vehicle the pure sculpted surfaces and rear wheel covers help to keep the air attached to the body sides. Along with the rear diffuser, the rear surfaces are sharper to encourage air separation from the body work reducing the low pressure area at the rear.
The Interior and single double bucket seat wrap around the driver and passenger making them feel part of the vehicle enhancing the visceral driving experience. The unique driver focused steering wheel display and innovative live aerodynamic feedback from the central display all contribute to a truly immersive driving experience.
Throughout the programme we have adopted a fully digital design and development process. Working with Sub divisional modelling tools to take the selected direction from 2D to 3D has allowed us to quickly iterate design changes and has enabled us to aerodynamically test the design using CFD and modify the exterior volumes rapidly to optimize the aerodynamic efficiency. Using VR visualisation tools, and milling the design intent in ¼ scale, enabled us to review and refine the design through to final A surfaces and the design freeze.”
Alex Stewart, Senior Design Engineer Astheimer Design – “The challenge of any design engineer is to translate the initial design intent into reality, and this needs to be done respecting all the constraints, including time and cost, alongside the technical, functional and legislative aspects. This means starting with a comprehensive feasibility study, investigating the technologies, materials, and processes to be able to create a one-off road legal concept car.
The development of the car with these challenging constraints required disciplined project management and a close cross partner collaboration between the 4 partners. Working with Potenza to define the vehicle package and light weight chassis, with BAMD to determine the panel properties and detailing, and with Conjure for the electrical integration of the HMI systems. We then started by defining the build strategy, rationalising the part break down and creating a full bill of materials (BOM) for the car.
Being road legal meant that structural integrity was of utmost importance whilst ensuring a fit and finish of the highest quality. This was achieved with moulded substructures that created a “jig” for the majority of the body panels.
Being a one-off concept car meant that we have used a combination of different materials, processes and technologies for the manufacture of parts. The main body panels are made using natural fibre composites and we have 3D printed many of the details, we used our in house prototyping hardware as much as we could and the fitting, finishing and assembly of the exterior and interior bodywork were all done in our workshop below our design studio.”
Astheimer Design, the lead partner of the consortium, is a design studio focused on delivering mobility solutions for a sustainable future, combining design excellence with engineering innovation to bring concepts to life in a way that’s unique, relevant and desirable.
Founded in 2009, Astheimer Design has grown into a multidisciplinary team of designers and design engineers. They have developed long term collaborative relationships with our clients, including Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Nissan, Airstream and Caterpillar.
Potenza Technology, a brand of FPT Industrial, are specialists in the design and build of high energy battery packs. For this project, a novel twin-pack battery architecture has been developed, controlled by the fifth generation of the Potenza Battery Management System.
Conjure, Aiming to keep the focus on driving and the road ahead, Conjure has incorporated a five-inch, self-levelling, circular steering wheel-mounted display that has the key information such as range, weather and other relevant driving information. Working together with the ten-inch touchscreen in the middle of the cabin, both screens will be run by one single computing unit. Conjure has provided a virtual 3D view real-world performance and aerodynamic views that also updates the driver and allows them to update their driving styles to maximise their range based on their surroundings.
BAMD Composites, pioneers in the manufacturing of high performance natural fibre composites, sought to lightweight the bodywork through the selective use of innovative BCOMP material. The dark pigmented weave of the material on the striking rear bumper, front splitter and rocker panels have been left visible, highlighting that sustainability can be visually aesthetic as well as good for the planet.