The Design and Development of Microcab

Michael Tovey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

99 Downloads (Pure)
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2010 DRS Montreal Conference
Place of PublicationCanada
PublisherDesign Research Society
ISBN (Print)978-2-9811985-2-5
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

This paper was given at the DRS (Design Research Society) 2010 conference: Design and Complexity, Montreal, 7-9 July 2010. The full paper can be viewed on the DRS website at Author's note: Significance: -
The Microcab project is led by John Jostins who is located in the Centre of Excellence for Product and Automotive (CEPAD) at Coventry University. Established as the result of a successful bid to HEFCE’s Centres of Excellence for Teaching and Learning initiative in 2005, CEPAD now has an expanded remit. It encompasses both pedagogic development and applied research, seeing these activities as mutually reinforcing. The author, as Director of CEPAD, has taken a direct role in managing and ensuring an appropriate context for the Microcab project.
The intention in the Microcab project has evolved during its development. When it was initiated in 1996 the vehicle concept was considerably further from the mainstream than it is now (in 2010). It can be summarised for the current phase of work as:
- To design and develop a vehicle for urban transport using low carbon, hydrogen fuel cell technology.
- To manufacture and test a number of vehicles
The design concept is a vehicle with good environmental characteristics. It incorporates a powertrain architecture which is modular and full optimisation of systems and components has not been attempted. Technology and component choices have been dominated by considerations of availability, practicality, robustness, affordability, and avoidance of the risks associated with emerging exotic technologies. The original inspiration for this extended piece of work came about as a response to urban congestion problems, particularly in large cities. The intention has been to design and prototype vehicles employing lightweight structures powered by means other than the internal combustion engine. A range of electric drive systems has been adopted for propulsion, initially using battery and solar power, but subsequently adopting hydrogen fuel cells.

The initial design process for Microcab has been successful. The complex design development programme has clearly had some success. However it is incomplete and there is a difference between the successful completion of its various programmes, and the overall achievement of a successful and proven product.
A key characteristic of the project has been its dependence on public sector funding. Its being timely and contributing to longer term future rather than short term economic returns has been an important component in arguing for such support.
Originality: -
At the time of the paper Microcab was the only hydrogen fuel cell vehicle in the world available for evaluation by a public sector organisation such as a university.


  • Industrial design
  • Eco-design
  • Sustainable design

Cite this