Is the Electric Supercar Just Round the Corner?
By Andy Bannister
Here’s the ideal antidote to all those fears that electric cars will mean an end to any hint of speed or driving excitement.
A small British company is promising to put into production a vehicle that theoretically should leave other high performance cars standing in the acceleration stakes, with literally electrifying performance – 0-60mph achievable in just 4.0 seconds.
The Lightning GT is the brainchild of the Lightning Car Company, based in Peterborough, England. It is currently showing a prototype of its impressive-looking sports car (with a distinct hint of Aston Martin in its looks) at the British International Motor Show in London.
How are these performance figures possible? It seems electric vehicles have maximum available power at the wheels at any speed, unlike a normal petrol engine where maximum power is only obtained high up in the rev range.
To deliver this power to the road the Lightning is will use electronic traction control which negates wheel spin and unbalance in the power being applied.
The GT has 30 onboard rechargeable high power electric batteries by US company Altairnano Inc. It features motors in each of its wheels – effectively making it four-wheel-drive – and has a 200 mile range between charges.
The car applies racing construction techniques and is built around a tubular spaceframe backbone chassis. Weight is kept down by the use of carbon fibre/Kevlar body panels.
As there is no conventional engine, the Lightning is said to be almost maintenance-free. It should not need anywhere near the amount of servicing demanded by other sports cars.
Planned features are as you might expect in an prestige model and include traction control, an electronic door entry system, and bespoke interiors.
A more unusual standard item will be the “programmable external engine sound generator” to give the electric Lightning the sound of a proper sports car, should customers require it.
In its publicity material, Lightning says the GT will do 0-60 in 4.0 seconds and produce the equivalent of more than 700bhp. It compares this with 5.0 seconds and 400bhp for Jaguar’s 4.2 XKR convertible (and 10.9 seconds/76bhp for the hybrid Toyota Prius, but that’s not exactly a fair comparison!).
The prototype displayed in London looks remarkably professional but no doubt there’s still some way to go before we can expect to see a Lightning GT on the road. The company is, however, already taking 10 per cent deposits (at £15,000 or $30,000) for would-be supercar drivers with a green conscience.
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