The Morgan Motor Company have made themselves famous for sticking to tradition. But underneath all that old-world bodywork lies a plethora of modern tech – unless you go for one of their retro-models that is. However the Morgan Aero SuperSports is one of their forward-thinking models, and to highlight that fact, it’s being used as the basis for Morgan’s electric car prototypes.
The Morgan +E programme will produce two engineering concept vehicles early in 2012. The 4.8 litre BMW V8 of the Aero SuperSports will be replaced by an electric powertrain driving through a conventional manual gearbox.
Zytek is the company Morgan will be turning to to provide them with a suitable electric drivetrain. Zytek’s first experience with a high-performance electric sportscar was back in 1997 when it converted a Lotus Elise to electric drive. The Award-winning design led to engineering programmes with Chrysler and General Motors, closely 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.
The prototype Morgan electric car will use a new derivative of Zytek’s tried and tested 70kW (94bhp) 300Nm 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 housed in the vehicle’s aluminium structure, offering a lightweight and powerful solution with safety systems already proven in production applications. The powertrain and batteries will be mounted in a bonded and riveted aluminium chassis constructed by precision metal former Radshape, based on an evolution of the design already manufactured by the company for Morgan’s Supersports range.
An unusual feature of the car 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,” explains Zytek’s engineering programme manager Neil Cheeseman. “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.”
PS. The images Morgan released alongside their announcement of the electric car prototypes are actually of a standard V8-powered Aero SuperSport model – so don’t read too much into them!