Geneva 2012: Morgan Plus E – classic shape, modern electric car tech

Unusually includes five-speed gearbox

By Farah Alkhalisi on March 11, 2012 11:44 AM

The Morgan Plus E open sports car is an electric concept that “could enter production if there is sufficient demand”.

The most interesting bit is its five-speed manual gearbox, engineered by British consultancy Zytek to work with a 95hp / 300Nm motor. The motor is mounted in the transmission tunnel, and the driver can select to keep the clutch engaged for an auto-like getaway.

“We wanted to see how much fun you can have in an electric sportscar, so we have built one to help us find out,” explained Morgan operations 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. With the manual gearbox to increase both touring range and driver involvement, it will be a fantastic car to drive.”

“A multi-speed transmission allows the motor to spend more time operating in its sweet spot, where it uses energy more efficiently, particularly at high road speeds,” explained Zytek MD Neil Heslington. “It also allows us to provide lower gearing for rapid acceleration and will make the car more engaging for keen drivers.”

Morgan is going to assess reaction to the concept and work on two prototypes, one with the five-speed manual ‘box and lithium-ion batteries, and a nearer-production second version will test out “alternative battery technologies” and perhaps a sequential-shift transmission. The engineering is part-funded by £100,000 from the UK government’s Niche Vehicle Network programme.

The Plus E shares its retro-look body with that of the latest BMW V8-powered Plus 8, also launched in Geneva, and is built on an adapted version of the Plus 8’s aluminium platform chassis.

Photo credit: Newspress