Tue, Jan 24, 2017 9:57 AM
You might not credit it from a car company which, for more than a century, has been all about giving its customers as authentic a taste of stripped-back motoring as possible - but Morgan Motor Company is also looking to a greener future, and is well down the road to bringing us its first zero-emissions car.
Part of the ethos of the Morgan Motor Company has been the way in which it celebrates, and seeks to push the boundaries of, what is possible from a basic internal combustion engine. And while it hasn’t made its own petrol engines for some years now, its models have sought to explore what is possible from otherwise fairly standard power plants.
Now, though, it has announced a development which should see it at the forefront of developing not just a single new zero-emissions model, but a whole new generation of electric sports cars - which promise to retain the back-to-basics ethos of conventional Morgans, but will add a completely new and compelling facet to their appeal.
A first prototype of Morgan’s vision, christened the EV3, was unveiled in 2015, after which the car went on to appear at last year’s Geneva Motor Show, when Morgan teased fans with the promise that the car: “Looks at the world of zero emissions motoring from an entirely different perspective, what if an all-electric vehicle was bespoke, hand crafted and exhilarating to drive?”
In other words, just like a Morgan, and the way they have been for more than a century.
The EV3 gained some very positive commentary, with Gearheads.org stating: “The Geneva Motor Show started something amazing for the British electric car with the reveal of Morgan’s three wheeled EV3.” The enthusiasts at Roadandtrack.com gave it a warm welcome too, calling it “the world's quirkiest new electric car, and exactly as charming as the concept.”
As part of its marketing push ahead of the car’s anticipated release, Morgan linked up with top department store Selfridges, which is selling a number of clothing lines and other accessories which will probably be essential buys for EV3 drivers, given its typical Morgan open-to-the-elements driving experience. These were open to the first 19 people to register their interest in the EV3 - the number has significance for both companies, as both were founded in 1919!
Morgan says the car will have a range of about 150 miles between charges, and be capable of a top speed of around 90mph.
Electric cars news website Electrek had seen an earlier prototype of the car, but after catching first sight of it in production form at the Geneva Motor Show, its enthusiasm remained undimmed: “The vehicle hit the mark in term of design and proved one of the most satisfying cars developed by the company, which is known for its rich history of iconic car designs”, it said.
More praise for the concept came from motoring website Gearheads.org, which hailed the company’s designers for “bringing a touch of old world class to the electric car field which often feels bogged down with overtly futuristic, space age designs.” It added: “The rear running, brake, and indicator lights are all small with a low profile to keep attention on the rest of the car through functional understatement.”
As well as committing to putting the EV3 into production, Morgan has also recently announced that it is ploughing a major investment into developing hybrid and all-electric powertrains for all its cars, which it hopes to have available by 2019, not long after the first EV3 will have taken to the road.
In doing so, it is investing £6million ($8.6million), and is joining up with fellow British companies, Silverstone-based Delta Motorsport, and Potenza Technology, a specialist in electric and hybrid vehicle technology, whose headquarters are not too far away, in Coventry, the cradle of the British motor industry.
Commenting on the link-up, and the prospect of Morgan playing a leading role in adapting electric propulsion for its decidedly track-oriented cars, tech website ArsTechnica noted: “Despite the retro image of Morgan's cars - the company does still use ash wood as a structural material, even in 2016 - the company has been quite forward-looking over the past decade.” It pointed in particular to Morgan’s introduction of the aluminium-chassis Aero 8 (a decade old this year!), noting that the car “looks like it stepped out of the pages of an alternative history novel”.
But Morgan’s chief executive, Steve Morris, was keen to point out that the company’s involvement in research and development of alternative fuel, or what he called “new propulsion” technology went back almost a decade itself, with the inception of what was known as the LifeCar project. “We are now ready to develop the best hybrid and electric drive-train solutions for production implementation before the end of the decade," he added.
And so, the company has felt now that it’s ready to announce its commitment - backed by the investment already mentioned - to have alternatively-powered engines available for each of its mainstream models by 2019.
This tight-timescale commitment has partly been made possible by funding from another major centre of UK engine research, the Advanced Propulsion Centre, a joint operation between the UK government and the automotive industry, which brings together engineers and companies and bodies with an interest in the potential of new forms of engine technology - among whom Morgan counts itself, of course.
The APC is already heavily involved in facilitating research into a range of innovations, including new vehicle battery packs, advanced turbocharger designs, and electrified taxis.
At Oakmere Motor Group, we’re excited about the massive commitment our partners at Morgan have made to developing a new generation of the cleanest possible engines for its cars.
We’ll be following this project as it gathers pace, and will bring you developments as they happen, along with details of when we expect to receive our first EV3. So keep coming back here for updates, and details of when you can test drive this exciting new car!