Morgan, Zytek combine electric drive with manual transmission

August 18, 2011 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
A high-performance electric sportscar prototype is being developed by the Morgan Motor Company and a consortium of British technology specialists. The Morgan +E programme will deliver two engineering concept vehicles early in 2012. Both will be based on a development of the proven Aero Supersport's aluminium chassis with the 4.8 litre 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 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. Morgan's Operations Director, Steve Morris said the vehicle in question will boast "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 favourable,” Morris said.

Zytek's first experience with a high-performance electric sportscar was back 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 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 70 kW (94 bhp) 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 liquid, high voltage electrics and low voltage electrics).

Power will come from a Li-Ion battery pack integrated into the vehicle’s aluminium structure, offering a lightweight yet 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.