Morgan Plus E Electric Roadster: Modern Battery In Classic Car

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The Morgan E+ Concept. Image: Morgan Motor Company

The Morgan E+ Concept. Image: Morgan Motor Company

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Morgan Motor Company is now the largest UK-owned car company in Britain.

Its Plus 4 "classic" model, the latest evolution of a 1930s roadster design, is still built with ash body framing and the century-old "sliding pillar" front suspension.

Nonetheless, the quirky family-owned British maker of sought-after sports cars is moving into the electric era.

As previewed last August on our sister site MotorAuthority, Morgan is working on its first electric car.

The company plans to unveil the new model, to be called the Morgan Plus E, at the Geneva Motor Show next month. Morgan will build the Plus E for production, it said, if there's sufficient interest.

The Plus E will be atypical in many ways. It's a Morgan, for one thing, which automatically makes it remarkable and highly desirable.

Morgan traditionally maintains a waiting list of months to years for its various models, all of them hand-built in low volumes.

Chassis fabrication will be done by Radshape. Image: Morgan Motor Company

Chassis fabrication will be done by Radshape. Image: Morgan Motor Company

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But more than that, it will be fitted with a manual transmission--something not found today in any mass-production electric car.

Because electric motors have a wide speed range--the one in the Tesla Roadster produces torque from 0 to 14,000 rpm--they customarily have nothing more than a reduction gear-set between the output shaft and the differential.

“This is an exciting investigation into the potential for a zero-emissions Morgan with near supercar performance.” said Morgan's operations director, Steve Morgan.

The Plus E will use an electric drivetrain developed by British firm Zytek, which provides electric running gear for various cars, buses, and commercial vehicles. Those include the electric vans from now-defunct British electric-truck startup Modec, and the Mercedes-Benz Vito E electric van conversion.

Zytek's 70kW electric motor. Image: Morgan Motor Company

Zytek's 70kW electric motor. Image: Morgan Motor Company

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Zytek also built the electric motors for the very first generation of electric Smart ForTwo models, in 2007, and its hardware is also built into Gordon Murray's T.27 electric urban minicar design.

We'll bring you more details on the Morgan Plus E--and many more green cars--as the Geneva Motor Show draws closer.

Meanwhile, you can follow all the news from Geneva, this week's Chicago Auto Show, and other shows on our Auto Shows page.

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