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Morgan Motors to test an electric car with a manual transmission

Consumer Reports News: August 19, 2011 04:38 PM

One of the great advantages of pure-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf is simplicity. An electric motor drives the wheels through a single-speed transmission. Want to go faster? Just press on the accelerator harder and the motor and single gear spin faster. But an English company wants to challenge that simplistic set-up and make its own electric car that requires a bit more of a hands-on approach.

Morgan Motor Company, a British car maker known for making rag-top roadsters for touring the English countryside, announced that next year it will be building a prototype electric roadster.

With a manual transmission.

Why? Because it will help keep the electric car's motor in "the sweet spot" and use its energy more efficiently said Neil Chesseman with Zytek, the company that will make the transmission set-up for Morgan. He told the website for the popular British TV show, Top Gear:

It also allows us to provide lower gearing for rapid acceleration from pull-away and higher gearing for top speed. It should also make the car more engaging for keen drivers.

That should be good news for "keen drivers," such as Top Gear's hosts who have been recently criticized for their apparent antagonistic attitudes toward electric vehicles.

In our own tests of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, our experts say that 0-60 mph acceleration times in electric vehicles aren't sports-car quick. But acceleration in EVs can feel "brisk"—thanks in part to the huge amounts of torque instantly available from electric motors.

Consumer Reports won't be testing the Morgan electric car prototype. But given that our testers are also keen drivers who love the virtues of shifting gears yourself and lament the endangered status of manual transmissions in cars, we can't help but wonder: Could Morgan's prototype EV be the way to win over car buffs? What do you think?

Electric Morgan will be an e-roadster with a manual transmission [Jalopnik blog]
Morgan to build electric Supersports based +E [Top Gear UK]
Morgan Announces Plan to Build Electric Sports Car with Manual Transmission [Automobile Magazine]
Is 'Top Gear' Really Out to Kill the Electric Car? [Time]

Paul Eng

   

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