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Morgan Motor Company and British technology partners to build a high-performance electric sportscar concept; Zytek drive through a manual gearbox

A derivative of Zytek’s production 70kW 300N·m E-Drive will be installed in the transmission tunnel with just three additional connections. Click to enlarge.

The Morgan Motor Company and a consortium of British technology specialists are developing a new, high-performance electric sportscar prototype. The Morgan +E program is to deliver two engineering concept vehicles early in 2012. Both will be based on a development of the proven Aero Supersport’s aluminum chassis with the 4.8-liter BMW V8 replaced by a new derivative of Zytek’s high power-density electric powertrain driving through a conventional manual gearbox.

The collaborative research and development project is being part-funded by a £100,000 (US$166,000) grant from the Niche Vehicle Network CR&D Programme, which is managed by CENEX to provide support and grant funding to groups of companies active in the niche vehicle sector. It promotes the development and application of new technology to take advantage of the increasing market opportunities for lower carbon vehicles.

This is an exciting investigation into the potential for a zero-emissions Morgan with near supercar performance. 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 favorable.

—Morgan’s Operations Director, Steve Morris

Zytek’s first experience with a high-performance electric sportscar was in 1997 when it converted a Lotus Elise to electric drive. The award-winning design led to engineering programs with Chrysler and General Motors, closely followed by a long-term relationship with Daimler to develop and build electric powertrains for the smart fortwo ed (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. A new lost cost KERS has also been developed by Zytek and has been tested by Honda for potential use in the 2012 super GT series.

The prototype Morgan will use a new derivative of Zytek’s proven 70kW (94bhp) 300N·m electric powertrain, which is already supplied to US vehicle manufacturers. The compact, lightweight unit will be installed in the transmission tunnel and will require just three additional connections (cooling water, high voltage electrics and low voltage electrics).

Power will come from a Li-Ion battery pack integrated into the vehicle’s aluminum structure, offering a lightweight solution with safety systems already proven in production applications. The powertrain and batteries will be mounted in a bonded and riveted aluminum chassis constructed by precision metal former Radshape, based on an evolution of the design already manufactured by the company for Morgan’s Supersports range.

Zytek’s sales and marketing director Steve Tremble says that one of the reasons for joining the consortium is to show the ease with which his company’s technology can be integrated with a rear-wheel drive platform.

An unusual feature of the vehicle will be that drive from the electric motor is taken through the standard manual gearbox.

Keeping the motor in its sweet spot will help it use energy more efficiently, which will increase the vehicle’s range. It also allows us to provide lower gearing for rapid acceleration from pull-away and higher gearing for top speed. It should also make the car more engaging for keen drivers.

—Zytek’s engineering program manager Neil Cheeseman



Conventional manual gearbox with electric motor? Nostalgia vortex?


It may be another way to keep the arm muscles in better shape?

An electronically controlled transmission could certainly do a better job with regards to keeping the most efficient gear selected for any given speed and acceleration..


Actually, electric motors work exceptionally well with gear ratio changes. However, I don't see this as breaking any new ground. There are plenty of electric conversions with uber high tech components and high HP motors. Nearly all of the quality designs perform well. None can match the range of a simple gasoline engine.


@ Harvey
An electronically controlled transmission cannot anticipate the road ahead, and a car with humanly controlled transmission can significantly outperform the automatic (ie outrun it, not so sure about consumption, but fuel consumption is not always Nr1 priority, sometimes it's not safe to drive economically), especially in hilly terrain, or/and where there are many sharp turns. Also an automatic (current state of technology and infrastructure) cannot see opening or closing of traffic lights ahead, gaps in traffic etc.



Be careful not to apply ICE knowledge to electric motors. They are completely different things and have different properties. Main big difference is that an electric motor can provide full torque at 0 rpm. An ICE is only able to provide power in a relatively narrow rpm band


I think BMW's choice of a single-speed transmission for its Active E and i3 BEVs is pertinent to the discussion. I hear they know a thing or two about performance cars. I assume Morgan will have a clutch with their conventional transmission--should be an interesting experience shifting, trying to retain the ICE driving experience . . .

Perhaps Zytek's comment that "It should also make the car more engaging for keen drivers" has some bearing on their motivation, along the lines of car manufacturers providing paddle shifters for CV transmissions. Marketing to the boy racers? I suppose all part of bringing the purists over to new technology.

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