Something old, something new, something borrowed and something…British racing green?
That could describe the battery-electric sports car by Morgan Motor Company, the maker of the famed timewarp/traditional English sports cars. Introduced at the Geneva Motor Show, the Morgan Plus E combines the classic contours of the new BMW V8-powered Morgan Plus 8–also launched at Geneva Morgan–with the lightweight aluminum platform chassis adapted for a Zytek 70kW (93 horsepower) electric motor.
It’s perhaps not surprising, considering it comes from Morgan, but the Morgan Plus E has an unusual powertrain for an electric. The electric motor is mounted in the driveshaft tunnel but sends power to the wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. What’s more, the transmission still has a clutch—the electric motor must be disengaged from the transmission to shift gears—but because the electric motor doesn’t have to idle like a gasoline engine when the vehicle is stopped, the clutch pedal doesn’t have to be pushed down.
Why the gearbox? In a statement, Zytek Automotive managing director Neil Heslington, explained that a “multi-speed transmission allows the motor to spend more time operating in its sweet spot, where it uses energy more efficiently, particularly at high road speeds. It also allows us to provide lower gearing for rapid acceleration and will make the car more engaging for keen drivers.”
Of course, anyone who drives a Morgan is keen, in more ways than one.
The program involves two engineering concept vehicles. The first, with the five-speed manual box and Li-ion batteries, will be used for preliminary engineering assessment while the second will be closer to potential production specification, with alternative battery technologies and possibly a sequential gearbox.
“We wanted to see how much fun you can have in an electric sportscar, so we have built one to help us find out,” said Morgan operations director Steve Morris. “The Plus E combines Morgan’s traditional look with high-technology construction and a powertrain that delivers substantial torque instantly at any speed. With the manual gearbox to increase both touring range and driver involvement, it will be a fantastic car to drive.”
With the Morgan Plus E, Morgan Motor Company can be among the first to be all-electric. Morgan says it will use Geneva to measure public response to the to the Plus E and decide whether to put it into production. Morgan Motor Company has been around since 1909, when the last of the early general-use electric vehicles were being made. With the Morgan Plus E, they can be among the first to have an all-electric sportscar.