The Morgan Motor Company is developing an advanced all-electric sports prototype in conjunction with a consortium of British technology companies.
The Morgan +E programme will deliver two concept cars early in 2012, both of which will be based on the Morgan Aero Supersport’s aluminium chassis. The car’s usual engine, a BMW 4.8 litre petrol V8, will be replaced by a Zytec electric motor that delivers 70kW (94bhp) 300Nm. The power will be delivered to the rear wheels through a manual gearbox, an unusual solution but one that is designed to use the electric motor’s energy more efficiently, extending its range as well as improving the acceleration and top speed.
“This is an exciting investigation into the potential for a zero-emissions Morgan with near supercar performance,” says Morgan’s Operations Director, Steve Morris. “By working closely with Zytek and Radshape, who already have considerable expertise in this field, we aim to make this a realistic concept that could lead to further developments if demand and other factors prove favourable.” The motor will be powered from a Li-Ion battery pack that is built into the vehicle’s bonded and riveted aluminium structure, offering a lightweight and powerful solution that has already proven its worth in the existing Supersport range.
The company, based in Malvern, England, is famous for still building some of its cars with a wooden framework. This move, though, will bring its range of cars bang up to date thanks, in part, to a £100,000 (approximately $160,000 or €112,000) grant from the Niche Vehicle Network CR&D Programme. The fund is managed by CENEX to provide support and grant funding to groups of companies active in the niche vehicle sector. Morgan have been building cars since 1909 and have resisted expansion so far, claiming that the long waiting lists for its cars are proof of their desirability.
Zytek have a long history of using electric motors in sports car. They already work with a number of car manufacturers including General Motors, Daimler, Chrysler, and Smart. They first converted a Lotus Elise to all-electric power back in 1997 and build power trains for the Smart ForTwo ED (electric drive). They have also raced a hybrid car at Le Mans and supply KERS-technology for potential F1 use in 2012. “With maximum torque from zero rpm, electric power can deliver an immediate, thrilling driving experience. Our intention is to demonstrate drivability, performance and refinement that comfortably meets the expectations of Morgan’s most discerning customers” says Zytek’s sales and marketing director, Steve Tremble.
Morgan has also acknowledged their more traditional roots with the recent release of a new three-wheeled car, to widespread acclaim. The £30,000 (approximately $48,000 or €34,000) car has only two seats, three wheels and a 2.0lt twin cylinder engine driving the single rear wheel through a Mazda MX-5 gearbox. Thanks to the lightweight construction – just 500kgs – the top speed of the M3W is 115mph (185km/h) and the 0-62 (100km/h) sprint takes only 4.5 seconds. Morgan plan to build 800 of these cars per year and the first year’s production is sold out already.