The pace of life at the Morgan Motor Company is perhaps a little slower than you’ll find at some of the world’s larger automakers, so you might not have noticed that the company’s plans to start producing its electric 3-Wheeler in late 2016 fell by the wayside.
But if you have been wondering when the funky-looking EV3 would make its debut, we now have an answer.
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The company has been working away behind the scenes and has announced Frazer-Nash Energy Systems as a technical partner for the project, and has set a new date of quarter three in 2018 for production to begin.
If the name Frazer-Nash rings any bells (other than being a brand with a similarly sepia-toned history to its new friend at Malvern) it’s because the firm was recently involved in a project to develop an electric London taxi under the Metrocab name.
While that role has now been fulfilled instead by the LEVC TX - a black cab developed under Chinese giant Geely - Frazer-Nash is still one of the UK’s experts on electric propulsion and a logical partner for Morgan to allow it to enter the brave new world of electric vehicles.
Morgan suggests several benefits will come from the partnership, including greater performance, fast charging, a lower centre of gravity thanks to a new battery design, and improved acceleration compared to the figures previously quoted. While no new number has been revealed, we can now expect a figure lower than the nine seconds to 62mph Morgan announced at Geneva in 2016.
One number that seems to have dropped is range. Morgan previously told us the car would travel 150 miles on a full charge, but now quotes only 120 - though given the EV3 is likely to be used more as a weekend toy than serious commuter, and given the new fast charging capabilities, it’s unlikely to trouble too many buyers.
That range comes from a 21kWh lithium-ion battery pack (1kWh more than before, so the range decrease is likely due to the extra performance), with power from a single, liquid-cooled electric motor with a peak output of 41.8kW, or 56bhp. Less than we were expecting, but the sensation of speed from behind a tiny fly-screen is likely to be dramatic enough, and as we’re aware from the standard car, higher speeds only invite an extra battle with your neck muscles and a greater challenge for the brakes acting on the skinny front tyres.
For Morgan the Frazer-Nash connection will help ease the company into the relative unknown of electric car production - something ‘no manufacturer can afford to ignore’, according to Noamaan Siddiqi, Managing Director of Frazer-Nash Energy Systems.
‘The greatest challenge lies within introducing EV technology into our factory; work flows, customer experience and supporting dealer network in a robust and most importantly safe manner’ explained Steve Morris, managing director at Morgan. ‘Frazer-Nash Energy Systems offer us every confidence in achieving this.’
A closer look at the EV3
Like the regular 3 Wheeler – which uses a 1-litre S&S V-twin – the EV3 is lightweight, weighing in at less than 500kg. For an electric vehicle, which typically tip the scales at significantly more than their petrol counterparts, it’s a real bonus, and should ensure the EV3 keeps the 3 Wheeler’s flyweight feel.
There are some notable styling differences between the EV3 and its petrol equivalent, thanks mainly to the missing engine. The front aspect might take some getting used-to, with a hint of Cyclops to the high-mounted spotlamp mounted above brass conductive cooling fins for the batteries.
The headlights are mounted lower, either side of the body, which – in Morgan’s words, takes inspiration from ‘1930s aero-engine race cars, classic motorcycles and 1950s fantasy automatons’.
To that end there’s also a prominent ‘magneto’ switch on the new dashboard for drive selection sitting alongside wood, brass, polished aluminium and, to the right of the drive selection switch, a circular digital screen. The steering wheel is of a new design too, adding to the strong steampunk-style theme. It's car detailing done right, and brings a level of visual intrigue to electric vehicles we've not yet experienced.
It’s the first production electric car from Morgan, but don’t expect it to be the last – the firm recently announced £6 million in funding from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, with a view to creating an entire range of electric and hybrid vehicles by the end of the decade.