“One day, we’ll all have autonomous pods,” Sir Gordon Murray tells us. Even as we contemplate the future of luxury mobility, this statement seems conceptually far-fetched. But Murray, CBE, and veteran McLaren Formula1 designer always had the idea very clear in his head. It’s what helped him create his 2010 T.25, an electric supermini built for everyday drive.
Being a true motoring futurist, Gordon designed the iconic McLaren F1 road car and played a key role in the brand’s motocross division. After spending more than two decades in McLaren’s throttle-fueled dynasty, he introduced the world to the concept of supermini cars. We sat down for a quick tete-a-tete with the veteran-futurist to understand what he thought of the future of urban mobility.
I had more than two decades in Formula 1, so the natural progression from there would be supercars for the road. So, what we’re doing now isn’t just supercars for the road – we’ve invented a new way of making cars altogether, not just smaller cars. A fundamental revolution of smaller cars is much needed considering the growing demand for transport.
I think the future of urban mobility is changing beyond recognition. In the next 25 years we will have a revolution. Up until now, car design and innovation has all been evolutionary but considering the shift in target groups that are getting younger by the day, one needs to understand that they don’t want big, heavy, hefty cars. So, I think we’ll have a complete revolution soon. Cars will not be recognised as cars, but as personal autonomous pods that won’t share the same engineering as the cars we see today. I would also expect more Uber-type services coming in.
I’m a little guilty about working with the McLaren F1 which was the quickest car in its time. I believe the power of supercars and superbikes is completely inaccessible, and that the chase for horsepower has become silly. I rode a 200-horsepower motorbike the other day and I couldn’t even reach halfway on its throttle scale. It has become more about a statement, than usability. The chase for horsepower, top speed and lap time is meant for supercars, not for roads. The F1 wasn’t designed for this purpose but it just turned out to be a fast vehicle and I’d like it to go down as a pinnacle of engineering and the best driver’s car, full stop.
I think there’s always been a place for cars beyond the ones you and I drive. For the roads, it’s always been about mobility. Above that, there’s a premium section, not just for collectors but simply for those who admire the engineering and technology. There will always be a place for those cars.
As we move towards more and more crowded urban areas, there’s two solutions to transport. I think we’ll see fewer private cars and more mobility-based shared vehicles. Although, however, the demand for personal mobility vehicles will never cease, which would lead us to owning personal electric powered cars. There’s definitely a place for personal mobility in India but it won’t be a big percentage.
This has been the sixth Cartier event and I’ve been here for every single one. I’ve judged at several events around the world, every year. But this one is particularly interesting because India has such diverse and rich history, which is why I love coming here. Motoring has been a key part of its history, keeping in mind that most of the collector pieces are owned by the royal families and Maharajas, which really weren’t accessible. So I think, what this event has done is simply embraced its heritage out in the open for everyone.