Geneva show – Morgan plugs in to electric future
The British maker of highly traditional sports cars is displaying one with an electric drivetrain.
However the new Plus 8 is very different to traditional wooden-framed Morgans. It has a bonded and riveted aluminium chassis based on that of the Aero 8.
The electric drive system comes from Zytek Automotive, uprated from the 100bhp used in other applications to closer to 140. Morgan has plans to increase this to more than 160bhp.
Its installation in the Morgan has been partially funded by a £120,000 grant from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board, although fitting the batteries in a small sports car posed more than a few challenges.
One of the car’s more unusual features is its five-speed Ford manual gearbox, compared to the single gear of most current electric cars.
Electric motors develop their maximum torque – 221lbft in the Morgan – from standstill, so theoretically should not need gears to get them rolling or to climb steep hills. Zytek, however, feels that the five-speed ‘box is an experiment well worth trying.
“It allows us to start playing with top speeds,” Zytek sales and marketing director Steve Tremble tells Headline Auto.
“A Morgan is a pleasure car and by having more than one gear it ensures there is enough torque to break traction from standstill with a top speed of 115mph and the ability to drive the car like an automatic.”
The gearbox also allows the car to operate in its most efficient mode for more of the time. “In most EVs maximum speed corresponds to maximum motor speed. With more than one gear the motor is always operating at its most efficient point.”
Morgan has so far built two cars and now intends to conduct a series of tests to start learning about the car and gauging public reaction.
The programme could result in Morgan building a car with only two or three gears, and Morgan admits it is in talks with transmission specialist Quaife about a form of automated manual gearbox. But the comany is already sufficiently encouraged to believe there could be a market for between 50 and 100 electric Morgans a year.
Photo: Headline Auto
Words by: DrivenData Reporter