Sports car manufacturer unveils radical new concept

The Westfield pod

Black Country sports car manufacturer, Westfield has launched its new concept – the UK’s first 100% British-designed and manufactured, low volume autonomous vehicle.

The Kingswinford firm, best-known for manufacturing open-top sports cars, has been producing fully factory-built and kit cars for enthusiasts from its factory since 1982.

Over the past two years, the company – under the direction of CEO Julian Turner – has been innovating its product range, experiementing with electric and autonomous vehicles.

The result is a radical departure from the product the firm is best known for.

Launching its new vehicle at the Midlands Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Cluster event at iCentrum in Birmingham, Mr Turner said: “Building on our experience with the Westfield POD we’ve been able to radically innovate, once more, to produce a ‘British First’ by developing a sports car that can be driven in both manual mode, or in fully autonomous mode.

“The system is due to be on the road within the next two years, taking passengers from Stockport train station to Manchester Airport. It’s a world first as the GTM will be platooning in groups of up to three vehicles at speeds of up to 70mph at just one metre apart, whilst saving up to 90% vehicle energy on a typical journey.”

The Westfield GTM is available via a mobile phone on-demand call system, with on-board environment changes available as in-travel options.  Collision avoidance technology enables GTMs to travel anywhere, at any time, night or day, in all reasonable weather conditions – without the need for any predetermined routes.

The Westfield driverless pod has been developed as part of Insight, an all British consortium comprising Westfield, Birmingham City University, Creative Example, Fusion Processing, Conigital Group and Heathrow Enterprises.

It is a development of the pod which has already been trialed at Heathrow for the past two years, helping to ferry passengers around the airport.

“Westfield has a simple ethos,” added Mr Turner. “Passion and Innovation – it’s by drawing on this ethos that we were able to produce the UK’s first fully autonomous pod. This innovation, a British first, has resulted in the elimination of 20,000 bus journeys to and from Heathrow each year and a 50,000 ton carbon saving annually at London’s Heathrow Terminal 5.”

The pods are available in pure electric and in hybrid form, containing an in-built live emissions monitoring system.
Routes are not predetermined, with the pods having the capability to travel anywhere on an unscheduled basis during the day, night and in any weather conditions.

Changes to the on-board environment are possible without interrupting vehicle journeys and have led to dramatic cuts in journey times – taking just four minutes from front door to terminal, compared to typical bus journey times of 27 minutes.

The Inisight project has a wider focus, assessing the safety, reliability and integration of autonomous systems in a complex city centre environment.