BAC has launched their all-new Mono R – a higher performance, lighter and more advanced version of its original Mono supercar. It has more power (340bhp), a brand new design and less weight (555kg) than its predecessor. We spoke to Ian Briggs, Design Director and Co-Founder of Briggs Automotive Company, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed about their latest creation and the Autodesk software used throughout the car design and manufacturing process.
The original Mono began its lifespan through design back in 2008. Ten years on, Ian and his team began designing the Mono R. “We all expect the new phone to be thinner, lighter, using high tech material, and so our aesthetic is moving towards that.” Ian said. “Not only has it become lighter, it has become lighter looking.”
Light-weighting is one of BAC’s main focal points, alongside power and design. “We wanted a lighter solution, so we came up with a design that allowed that to be possible,” explained Ian. “For example, we have a floor stay which in the past had a rose joint and a bracket, and then it was connected to a piece of carbon fibre. By altering the shape of the car, we have managed to eliminate those components. Let’s give it more power, ask it to lose weight, and be very design-driven.”
The Mono R serves as The New Reference, the very pinnacle of design, innovation, engineering and performance in the automotive industry. The striking new look is defined by the imposing shark nose front, which epitomises true efficiency of form, courtesy of a sleek and homogeneous redesign. The new nose coupled with the Formula-inspired ram-air inlet system issues a hint at the R’s phenomenal performance potential, while the upper body design is slenderer and more organic to enhance aerodynamics.
Co-developed with long-standing engine partner Mountune, the Mono’s 2.5 litre, four-cylinder unit has increased in power by 35bhp to deliver 340bhp. Striving to meet power targets, BAC and Mountune increased the cylinder bore size and reduced new billet crankshaft strokes to optimise power and torque delivery and increase revs-per-minute from 7,800rpm to 8,800rpm.
Improving these three focal points and achieving these goals, in Ian’s opinion, is the company’s biggest achievement. “If you start with a 580-kilogram car that everyone finds looks like a spaceship anyway, to improve how it looks, to improve how it performs and to make it lighter, is extremely hard,” he said. “I am proud that in all those areas we’ve managed to make improvements on things that are not easy to improve.”
To achieve this, BAC have worked closely with Autodesk, with the software being at the core of their inventions. “Everything we use is Autodesk,” Ian said. “So much so, we actively recruit engineers with Inventor experience, while our designers were already using Alias. We are free to set the bar how we want, which has allowed us to recruit our engineering team from scratch with Inventor experience. What sets us apart from traditional car manufacturers is our agility, and the new technology has allowed us to be that way, as well as do things quicker.”
BAC is also proud of the fact that the Mono R is a world first for a car that contains exclusively graphene filled carbon fibre body parts. Ian commented: “Every carbon part on the car is graphene filled. We work together with our suppliers such as Haydale and Pentaxia to find improvements in the property which has allowed us to take some carbon out, the graphene is added to the resin, and improves the mechanical properties of the structure. That means you need less carbon and that’s where the waste saving comes from.” Ian is open to collaborating with companies to make generatively designed printed materials with a view to gaining further performance benefits. “Unless we start with generative design, we won’t get the most out of the printed parts. We can use Autodesk software to have carbon fibre production parts that are generatively designed, additively manufactured, and on a production car that we are selling and racing around in.”
For BAC, the bridge between design and manufacturing is being brought closer using Autodesk software. “A true story is that last Thursday we started the first sketches for the Mono R’s lights surrounds, in Sketchbook,” Ian said. “On Friday morning we started modelling it in Alias. At 4:30pm it went to print for over the weekend, on Monday it was painted, put on the car by Tuesday and we are here at the launch on Thursday. That shows one week from idea, to press launch.”
Discussing the CAD side of Autodesk software further, Ian spoke about the importance of customisation for their customers, and how they use Alias for this. “There are a few areas in which we do the personalisation,” he explained. “With the moulded seats and grips, we use Alias and then 3D print the part. The visual bespoking of the car is a part of our design team’s work with VRED, which allows the customer to see their car in different scenarios, colours and much more.”
The future between BAC and Autodesk is strong, formulating projects surrounding different Autodesk software solutions. “We have started to look at generative design with a project we are trying to get off the ground with the upright,” Ian said. “Plus there are a few projects and a couple of things in the car to be finalised through newer Autodesk software.”
For Ian, their partnership with Autodesk is only set to improve: “I would be keen to access generative design through using Fusion 360, and possibly expand and involve other collaborator companies with us.”
For now, though, Ian and the team at BAC are concentrating on celebrating the launch of the Mono R, with the strictly limited 30 models already sold out, after being offered exclusively to existing Mono owners worldwide.