Prestigious award for pioneering British sports car manufacturer

Prestigious award for pioneering British sports car manufacturer
A pioneering British car firm known for manufacturing some of the lightest motors around has received a prestigious award for its ground-breaking work.

Ariel Motor Company, one of the country’s smallest automotive firms with just 25 workers, was given the Sturmey Award for innovation by Autocar.

Ariel is leading the way when it comes to developing lightweight cars and weight-saving innovations that can help to boost speed and cut fuel consumption.

Based at Crewkerne in Somerset, it turns out just 100 vehicles a year. They include the iconic Atom sports car, which is made with a novel titanium chassis.

Previously, one of the biggest barriers preventing firms from working with titanium surrounded the welding process, which often proves too difficult or expensive.

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But Ariel has led the way in creating titanium structures by teaming up with other small businesses to develop an oxygen-free chamber for welding the metal.

Through this process, Ariel reduced the mass on the chassis of its Atom sports car by 40%, resulting in an overall weight saving of 9% across the whole of the vehicle.

Further weight savings have been achieved by installing a wiring harness which weighed just 1.25kg, compared to the usual 9.5kg.

Ariel is also known for manufacturing the Ace motorbike, which has an estimated top speed of around 165mph and can go from 0 to 60 in just 3.4 seconds.

The bike carries a price tag of £20,000, and a range of seats, handlebars exhausts, brakes, tank sizes and styles means it can be easily customised.

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Riders also have a choice of two front-ends – either a girder fork or a more traditional twin-tube layout.

The company has been awarded funding worth more than £900,000 to work on projects focused on advanced hybrid technologies, electric vehicle batteries and a flexible, lightweight automotive suspension concept.

Ariel’s founder Simon Saunders said: “As well as projects such as the lightweight titanium chassis and wiring harness, Ariel is currently involved in part-funded, multi-million-pound projects looking at new and disruptive technologies.”

He added that the firm’s hope is to become “world leaders in the fast changing world of automotive technology, putting the UK at the front of innovation”.

Copyright Press Association 2016. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.