The British sports car maker Morgan, best known for its classy, hand-built roadsters that give a strong nod to the past, isn't hesitating to embrace the future of the automobile. The company just released some advance details and images for its LIFECar concept, to be revealed to the press next week at the Geneva Motor Show.
The hydrogen-powered Moggie coupe, has a very traditional sports-car silhouette — low-slung, with a long, low hood, rounded rear glass and upright tail. Yet, instead of the expected gasoline BMW V-8 of Morgan's production flagship coupe, the Aero8, it has a fuel cell and electric motor system on board
The LIFECar concept, according to Morgan, “takes a fresh look at transport, offering as revolutionary an approach to personal freedom as did the brilliant Morgan Threewheeler introduced by HFS Morgan nearly 100 years ago.” And, the automaker hints, it may preview the form of performance motoring for the brand ten years or more from now.
The four-stack fuel cell, supplied by British defense contractor QinetiQ, was designed to meet the constant-load cruising conditions — about 20 percent of peak power — and operates at an overall efficiency of 45 percent. Quick bursts of power are delivered as needed by a bank of ultra-capacitors, which are capable of “shuffling up to 1000 amps back and forth,” according to the automaker, to deliver the juice needed for peak acceleration and to get the most effective energy storage from regenerative braking.
Instead of a central electric motor system and transmission, such as that used by most hybrids and electric vehicles to date, the LIFECar uses four electric motor/generators, each directly connected to its respective drive wheel.
To wrap all this componentry together into a cohesive, reliable, and supposedly fun-to-drive package, the Morgan concept employs a sophisticated management system, developed by England's Cranfield University, that allows a most noteworthy regenerative braking action of up to 0.7g at higher speeds while providing smooth hydraulic brake action at low speed.
Altogether, Morgan says that the LIFECar will deliver a top speed of 80 to 85 miles per hour, a 0-62-mph acceleration time of less than seven seconds, and a 250-mile range on a tank of hydrogen. Its fuel consumption is most noteworthy, at an estimated gasoline-equivalent 150 mpg.
Inside, the LIFECar uses a combination of lightweight aluminum, wood, and leather materials that correspond to the car's environmental focus, including a contoured, “saddle leather” seat design.
We'll have more details on the LIFECar from the Geneva show floor, beginning March 4.
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