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UK Company Introduces Electric Sportscar with Altairnano Battery Pack; More Models Planned

12 June 2007

Lightning
The Lightning GT.

A UK-based car company is introducing an all-electric luxury sportscar powered by an Altair Nanotechnologies lithium-ion battery pack and PML Flightlink in-wheel motors. The Lightning Car Company (LCC) is targeting a range for its Lightning GT models of approximately 250 miles and a top speed of 130 mph or 150 mph.

The top speed, according to the company, is a function of the motor. This can be manufactured to suit at the expense of acceleration, which in the GTS model is 0-60 mph in 4 seconds.

The electric Lightning uses a 35 kWh battery pack with 30 Altairnano large-format NanoSafe batteries. These are currently similar to the batteries used in the Phoenix Motorcars all-electric sport utility truck (SUT). However, LCC plans to change to the higher spec cells in development. Lightning developed the drive system, charge and management system. As to a warranty for the pack, LCC says that it is in discussion with Altairnano.

Lightning Car Company did not consider taking the Tesla approach by assembling a battery pack from thousands of commodity small format 18650 cells. The company believes that approach to be a “backward step”, with safety concerns, lower performance, and manufacturing and technical complexity.

We believe Altairnano and their battery technology is leading the world. The issue, however, is purely cost as we do not have tax credits here in UK for our vehicles.

—Arthur Wolstenholme, Lightning Car Company

Altairnano batteries can be recharged in 10 minutes, as recently verified for Phoenix Motorcars and the California Air Resources Board by AeroVironment. The Lightning cars require no thermal management or dedicated cooling system for the battery pack. The motor units are cooled using onboard cooling systems.

The car uses four 120 kW Hi-Pa HPD40 electric wheel motors from PML Flightlink. The Hi-Pa Drive unit combines the motor and drive electronics in a single package. The units offer full regenerative braking down to very low speed, full holding torque at zero speed, a built-in brake resistor (for full charge regeneration situation), and a wide speed range. (These are the same in-wheel units used by PML Flightlink in the prototype plug-in series hybrid conversion of a MINI, the MIN QED. Earlier post.)

Each HPD40 drive unit offers maximum torque of 750 Nm (533 lb-ft). The torque curve is relatively flat, dropping off to around 600Nm at top speed.

The body for the Lightning GT is built from a combination of carbon fiber and Kevlar.

The price for the extended and top of the range models is around £150,000 (US$296,000). The company is taking reservations for 2008 delivery. The company also says that it is also planning other types of electric cars, but that it cannot comment further at this point.

(A hat-tip to Yves!)

June 12, 2007 in Electric (Battery) | Permalink | Comments (40) | TrackBack (0)

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Are you kidding? $296,000? Who the hell needs an expensive car like that? Sounds to me like the Tesla, even with it's supposed inferior battery assembly, is a better choice.

Oh, really, Richard in FLA? Tell me who really "needs" a Tesla. Rather than whine about the thing being (more) expensive, why not just be happy that all of a sudden, another company turns out to be producing an electric vehicle? And one that's close to the car everyone's been waiting for: direct-drive (i.e., in wheel motors), fast charging capability, carbon-fibre bodywork, etc. And it's pretty, too. In a different way from the Tesla, which will interest yet another group of people. And it's good news for Altair, Flightlink, etc., etc. So: even if you can't afford it, be happy that this fuels innovation with someone else's money.

George Clooney and Jay Leno will have another toy.....................

Firms that don’t consider costs will never become important on a wider scale. This firm for sure doesn’t consider the costs picking the most expensive battery and the most expensive in wheel electric motors. Their argument about avoiding the complexity of the much cheaper Tesla battery is contradicting. You only avoid complexity if it costs more but the Tesla battery costs far less than the Altair battery. It is good though that more choices become available in the marketplace even though only celebrities and the like will be able to afford it if it makes it to the market.

I was almost certain a UK firm would jump on the Altair batteries to do this the minute they could. Watch this niche dribble slowly into a flood into the mainstream.

It uses the electric motor to brake. The motor weight is comparable to a caliper/rotor/axle setup.

I doubt these type of wheel motors and electric braking could be used in the states without extensive testing. It is a nice car and is worth the money if you have 300,000 dollars laying around.

Spending this type of money on an ICE sports car should be joke.

Tesla may use "inferior" technology but its cheaper! In the long run we hope in-wheel-motors and car format batteries will be the standard but there still not cheap enough yet. Tesla getting in ahead of the game, quite possible to its success.

One thing that always bothers me though is how many go on about charging a EV in just a few minutes, sure you might build batteries and hypercaps that can withstand megawatts going through it, but you also need a dedicated charging stations with wires as thick as a man's wrist going all the way back to the power plant! Charging over night is not a bad thing, no more stopping at a gas station and if the car has a reminder you never forget to plug it in, and if you need to go on a road trip bring a generator (a tow-able hybrid?)

The ten-minute recharging is done with a 480-volt 3-phase supply, similar to what's available in thousands of factories all around the country.

In a recent interview, the Altair CEO indicated that they are to build EV recharging stations throughout California. Each one will use a huge bank of Altair cells to store MWhs of charge so that hundreds of cars can be filled during the day (at 10 minutes each), while the recharging stations own batteries are refuelled using cheap night-time electricity.

I was thinking that with in-wheel motors, battery and controller you could make a dandy kit for anyone that wanted to build their own car or convert any other car. The relative simplicity would make this easy to work with.

certainly these companies will both have breakthroughs that translate into either next gen hybrids or EV's. The early adopters are enabling the process to Happen, so KUDO'S to Jay and George or whoever buys one.

If many of these fast charging cars come along, it won't be long before parking garages starts to offer battery charging services, or maybe even restaurants. How about this as a ad slogan - "charge your car batteries as you dine".

This is only an announcement, and they are a dime a dozen. If all of the announcements would come true, everyone would have been driving an EV by now.

Things are working as they should.

We are witnessing the normal arc as a new technology becomes commerce. Competing visions and business plans announced by companies that may or may not ever build a product.

Then demonstrations, early adopters, identification of the best, higher production, consolidation.


I tend to agree with Richard from FL. They won't sell enough of these to stay afloat before having to file for bankruptcy protection--whatever that's like in England. Why so expensive? I don't think it's the battery pack.

Rolex produses about 700 000 watches annually, with revenue of about 3 billion dollars (4000 dollars per watch average). Ferrari produses about 6000 vehicles annually, with revenue of about 2 billion dollars (300 000 dollars per vehicle average).
There are a lot of loaded folks around searching for extravagant ways to spend money. Neighborhood vehicle (to impress the neighbors), such as Lighting, is the perfect buy for such a purpose.

I got the impression that these cars were going to be hand built. That would explain the price. I seem to recall that the battery pack is about $70,000 so that doesn't account for the price.

Just think about the taxicab market for a moment. IF the worlds large cities like London(is already doing), NYC, Tokyo, Beijing were to implement severe carbon standards, the Altairnano battery would make a lot of sense and possibly be the only practical solution with the unknown lifetime somewhere over 25000 cycles and counting.

Price does not worry me. This is the way a huge company gets built slowly, across a broad swath of markets. Long ALTI!!!!!!!!

Do they really mount the Ha-Pa drive units in or on the wheel as part of the unsprung mass? The 120kw units weigh 25kg or 55lbs. The brakes and CV units it is replacing surely weighs less.

If I were designing the suspension on this car I would try to mount the drive units inboard of the wheels near the inner suspension mounts and use a standard CV axle to transfer the power.

I believe any difference in weight is more than made up for by the ability to independently control each wheel. In addition it is also possible to build the suspension right into the wheel as well. That gets rid of the problem.

It looks like an old Jag XK series.

Hey, fellas, everything's expensive at first. They'll
trickle down to our level eventually. Streamlined manufacturing, volume costs. Don't be so negative.

I bet they put Bond, James Bond, in one soon; then you'll all want them.

The 13" C5 Corvette Brakes + Spindle assemblies I just put on my Camaro weighed in at ~55 pounds each, on top of that add some of the weight of the a-arms and shocks depending on the type of suspension system to put into some perspective the mass involved. I'm sure they'll be using lightweight forged wheels as cost doesn't seem to be a priority for them :)

Lets ask some questions:

1. Who is backing this project?
2. How can they claim a delivery date before even a prototype is built?
3. How much have they accomplished in terms of engineering so far?
4. Why is there only address a P.O. Box?

Man the knives come out so quickly! This company has only just appeared on the scene this year. How about we give it a chance to prove itself rather than dismissing it instantly eh?

They also need to get the car crash tested. With a brand new car that is going to be very costly and time consuming. Lot’s of $300000 crash tests. If they finish all that before year end 2008 it would be almost a miracle. Look at Tesla. They may have to postpone their introduction to 2008 and they have been working on their design for some years now.

If it retails for over $30K, it's a technology demonstrator and not a world changer.

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