By Mike Torpey on 2012-03-08 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Morgan lifts lid on
AN electric sports car with a five-speed manual gearbox has been designed by Morgan with the support of British technology specialists Zytek and Radshape.
And provided there's sufficient interest shown in the concept, then the radical new roadster could enter production.
"We wanted to see how much fun you can have in an electric sports car, so we have built one to help us find out," explained 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."
The Plus E is based on a tailored version of Morgan's lightweight aluminium platform chassis clothed in the revised ‘traditional' body from the new BMW V8-powered Plus 8 also displayed at the Geneva Motor Show.
Power is delivered by a new derivative of Zytek's 94bhp electric engine driving the rear wheels through a conventional five-speed manual gearbox.
The clutch is retained, but because the motor provides torque from zero speed the driver can choose to leave it engaged when coming to rest and pulling away, driving the car like a conventional automatic.
The collaborative research and development project is part-funded by a Â£100,000 grant from the Government's Niche Vehicle Network Programme, aimed at promoting new low-carbon vehicle technologies.
Zytek's first experience with a high performance electric sports car was in 1997 when it converted a Lotus Elise to electric drive.
The design led to engineering programmes with Chrysler and General Motors, followed by a long-term relationship with Daimler to develop and build electric powertrains for the smart fortwo electric drive.
In motorsport, Zytek was the first company to race a hybrid at Le Mans and supplied technology for the first KERS-equipped Formula 1 car to win a grand prix.
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