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Sports car with fuel appeal

PUBLISHED: 09:47 29 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 July 2010

A sports car designed and built in Beeston has the answer to spiralling fuel prices - it can complete 2,000 miles on one tank of fuel.

The prototype two-seater Trident Iceni has proved on the test track this month that it can do 68.

A sports car designed and built in Beeston has the answer to spiralling fuel prices - it can complete 2,000 miles on one tank of fuel.

The prototype two-seater Trident Iceni has proved on the test track this month that it can do 68.9 miles for every gallon of biodiesel at a steady 70mph.

That ranks the car's fuel efficiency close to some of the greenest small-engined cars on the market - even though it has performance to match a sports car and can reach 60mph from a standing start in under four seconds.

The managing director of the business behind the £60,000 Trident Iceni said the car showed how smart engineering offered motorists the hope today of greener driving and cutting their fuel bills - rather than waiting years for hydrogen or electric vehicles to be widely available.

But he also revealed that the Iceni project has over-budget and warned that putting the prototype car into production was in danger of stalling. And he claimed that green agencies were reluctant to provide financial aid to develop a fuel-efficient sports car.

The East of England Development Agency said it would welcome an application for funding from the company.

Phil Bevan, of Beeston-based Trident Performance Vehicles, said £2.3m has been spent in the last two years developing the two-seater prototype.

But the business is £175,000 short of finishing its first production-quality demonstration car.

Testing at the Millbrook circuit, near Luton, showed the car can run on 100pc biodiesel, conventional diesel or any blend of the two.

The record for fuel efficiency is held by Toyota's Aygo, a one-litre engine car capable of 78.4 miles per gallon.

Mr Bevan plans to enter the car in the endurance car championships at Snetterton in August to demonstrate the Iceni's fuel economy credentials.

He also revealed that a Chinese company had offered to buy a 51pc stake in the business and move it from its headquarters at Beeston in mid Norfolk to China - a proposal Trident had turned down.

“We feel that electric and hydrogen cars may be the future in five or ten years' time, but our technology is here today,” Mr Bevan said.

“There are various government departments that offer grants. However, our experience is that they seem unwilling to fulfil their own carbon dioxide and fuel consumption targets.”

Mr Bevan said the company's aim was to produce 500 cars a year and license its production around the world - and share the firm's fuel-efficiency know-how with other motor manufacturers.

There had been interest in buying the £60,000 Iceni from the United States, Australia and Monaco.

“We're on the cusp of getting the demonstrator finished and going out and earning £2m this year and more than £20m next year,” Mr Bevan added.

“We're supplying what we know people are desperately asking for.”

Andrew Merritt-Morling, interim head of access to finance at the East of England Development Agency, said the agency had talked with Trident in the past about funding.

“EEDA is extremely supportive of innovative developments, especially concerning green technologies and would welcome another application from Trident,” he said. “The criteria are available on our website and the normal period for completion of grant applications is 45 days.

“Through this scheme - and the other EEDA 'finance for innovation' funds - last year alone EEDA provided nearly £200,000 to innovative Norfolk-based companies who were able to demonstrate that their product or idea will boost the region's economy.”

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