News : SHADO unveils new Inspiration EV


Stephen Harper, the man behind the design of the MGF, Ford Escort Cosworth and MG GT, has overseen the development of a new battery-powered city car designed for emerging markets. It’s a sharp-looking car with promised developments including induction charging, and the possibility of being made in various locations globally.

The Design Consultancy SHADO began work on the project in 2013, with the brief to reinvestigate how we will really need transport in the future. One key element of this study was to identify the differing aspects of our use for vehicles. From this a project began called the BAYcycle, a simple low-energy usage personal EV, which used energy ‘as required’ to keep the weight of the vehicle low, and as few batteries as possible.

Following that, Steve created SHADO International Group, based in Singapore, to work on a new project, taking the purity and simplicity of the BAYcycle and creating a four-seat EV. The result was the SHADO Inspiration EV, which has been designed to combine the simplicity and practicality of the Citroen 2CV, Mini and Fiat Panda, with a low-cost efficient power system. A modular frame system was developed, which means the platform can be spun-out into new fleet and commercial vehicle derivatives.


The design features many new ideas, which are all production ready. The interesting looking car is 3.7m long, 1.84m wide, 1.55m high, is designed to have a top speed of around 45mph, and is simple to drive, with room for four. The range of claimed to be 60 miles, with the basic lead-acid battery pack, but this can be increased by specifying a number of battery and accessory options.

The Inspiration EV includes wireless charging, alongside interchangeable batteries, range extender packs, conventional charging systems and solar panels to power the air conditioning, which is essential in the car’s primary markets. The whole body frame and chassis has been designed from the start as a CKD Modular Assembly System, where all the components required for the vehicle, arrive directly from the suppliers, to the localised assembly plants.

SHADO has already commissioned pilot assembly plants in Vietnam and Laos, with a UK plant in the South West planned. The first running prototype has been completed, and now further Investors and Partners are being sought, to bring the Inspiration EV to production.

Steve told AROnline: ‘I have been trying to imagine how Herbert Austin or William Morris with the £100 Minor, would look at transport today. They were clearly motivated to provide simple cheap and effective mobility for the masses. This is especially the case in the emerging markets, eager for personal transport.

‘As we move forward we find that most people run their car with a full fuel tank, just in case they have to drive to the other side of the island. But in reality their Nurburgring tested, two golf bag carrying, techno-car, rarely goes beyond Sainsburys.

‘What we have created is a non-“energy hogging” vehicle, which uses alternative systems to provide you with 80-90% of your daily need, and options to enable you to go further if required. EVs may struggle to do a 300-mile round trip, without paying big bucks for expensive Li-ion batteries.

‘But we are not trying to compete with those long-distance vehicles which have to permanently carry that payload. As Lords Austin and Nuffield realised, there are many out there who just want to be a little more comfortable than on a bicycle or bike-combo, and a simple car is just what they need to pop to the shops.’


More information on the SHADO website


Keith Adams


  1. Hasn’t this been attempted on several occasions, the G Wizz being the one which comes to mind ? It looks as though he cut and pasted bits of Smartcar, G wizz , and Morris 8 together and hoped for the best. The safety aspects of it worry me too

  2. SHADO? Doesn’t look like anything that Commander Ed Straker would have driven to me.

  3. I like the emphasis on simplicity rather than excess. It’ll do the job, transporting you to a local employer or the supermarket. When you think about it, in a World of limited resources it is rather ridiculous that people use SUVs, 4x4s for this purpose.

  4. When I saw this I thought it was left over from April Fools day. Where do you put the horses? The Cosworth and MGF were great cars so I’m sure Stephen Harper could have designed something simple but a bit more eye catching. A Sinclair C5 would have been better.

  5. I was surprised by “the man behind the design of the MGF” comment in the introduction to this piece. It is a while since I read the excellent MGF and MGTF book by David Knowles, but I am under the lasting impression that the development and evolution of the MGF involved a lot of people. So I would suggest that S Harper was (surely?) one of many.
    Was that not the case with the design of the Escort Cosworth, too?

    Or is my memory playing tricks?

  6. Are some of you guys missing the point?
    I would not expect it to be as stylish as an Escort Cosworth. The question to consider is: In future would you pefer to drive this vehicle or walk?

  7. I think it might do alright if the doors can be removed like a jeep- in summer having big glass doors with no windows could well be a problem- no doors would be alright as long as you didn’t take it on a motorway or go too fast (not really possible considering the top speed: 45mph). Mind you I like the design as it is- nicer than the Renault Twizy.

  8. @Mike Butler… I agree, I couldnt see Ed Straker in one of these! I preferred his actual car in the UFO series which was built on the chassis of a Zodiac MKIV. Dinky Toys released a model of it.

  9. Don’t know what to make of Stephen Harper, He promotes his involvement in some iconic and significant vehicles over the last thirty years but his website is “pants”! If he is the design guru he claims to be then why is his shop frontage so poor and amateurish?

  10. Has anything ever come of the ” Inspiration” or did it die the death ? The accounts of Harper’s companies in the UK ( the most recent is S.H.A.D.O Design Limited ) don’t exactly suggest that much is happening

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