Morgan Charges to Geneva with All-Electric Plus-E Roadster

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If you throw a stone in the air at any stand in this year’s Geneva Motor Show, chances are it will land on an all-electric or hybrid car. Even all-out supercars like the Honda/Acura NSX and the Infiniti Emerg-E have been electrified.

However, if we asked you to pick one brand that you believe won't have such a model on its stand then Morgan Motors would probably get your vote. But you’d be wrong: the British carmaker came to Switzerland with the the Plus E concept, an all-electric version of the Aero 8 roadster fitted with a manual gearbox.

"We wanted to see how much fun you can have with an electric sportscar, so we have built one to help us find out", said Morgan operation 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."

Contrary to popular belief that the 102-year old carmakers’ models are built around a wooden chassis, only the body substructure is made from wood; the chassis is constructed out of metal, which in the case of the Aero 8 is aluminum.

The Plus E is based on the new, BMW V8-powered version of the Plus 8 that was also revealed in Geneva. It is powered by a Zytek electric motor with an output of 70kW (94HP) and 300Nm (221.2 lb-ft) of torque.

The electric motor is mounted in the transmission tunnel. Unlike other all-electric cars, the Plus E uses a conventional five-speed manual gearbox to transmit power to the rear wheels. It uses a conventional clutch as well, although when coming to rest or pulling away from standstill the driver can leave it engaged, in which case it operates like an automatic transmission.

Zytek Automotive managing director Neil Heslington explains: "A multi-speed transmission allows the motor to spend more time operating in its sweet sport, where it uses energy more efficiently, particularly at high speed." He added that this solution allows for rapid acceleration, "making the cars more engaging for keen drivers."

The collaborative efforts of Zytek and Morgan, which are partly funded by a £100,000 UK government incentive for the promotion of low-emissions alternative technologies, will result in two different concepts.

The first will be similar to the Morgan Plus E with a lithium-ion battery pack and manual transmission and will be used mainly to assess the project. The second will be much closer to the production car, using alternative battery technologies and, probably, a sequential gearbox.


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