British carmaker Morgan unveiled its newest model, the all-electric Morgan EV3, at the Geneva show this week, taking the brand’s historic 3-Wheeler in a decidedly new direction. With its modern electric drivetrain and retro-futuristic looks, the Morgan EV3 is a spectacular marriage of tradition and innovation.
Morgan isn’t a company that generally pays much attention to what other automakers are doing. Most car factories are full of robots and advanced manufacturing methods, while Morgan bends its wood-backed car frames on an old-school jig. Perhaps that’s what makes this project so fascinating, as Morgan is venturing into the modern-day zeitgeist of electric motors, batteries, and carbon fiber.
The Morgan EV3 looks at first very similar to the gasoline v-twin-powered 3-Wheeler, save for the exposed engine that’s usually up front. In its place are brass conductive cooling fins that encase a 20-kWh lithium battery, which powers a rear-mounted, liquid cooled 46-kW (62-hp) electric motor hooked up to the single rear wheel. Morgan hand-forms the carbon-fiber hood, tonneau cover, and side pods over the ash-wood frame. The rest of the EV3 body is similarly treated aluminum.
As you might expect, the Morgan EV3 is tantalizingly lightweight at a shade over 1,100 pounds, helping it reach its impressive 150-mile all-electric range. Not only will it sprint from 0-62 mph in 9 seconds and top 90 mph, but Morgan promises the EV3 will match the regular 3-Wheeler’s overall performance. We imagine the instant electric torque, minimal weight to move around, and open-air sensations will make for a thrilling drive right off the line.
Designers for the Morgan EV3 say that its sleek, tubular design is inspired by 1930s aero-engine race cars, classic motorcycles, and robots from the 1950s. The smooth forms, asymmetric headlight, steering wheel from a 1940s Ford pickup, and retro-futuristic dashboard design all speak to those efforts in a clear and convincing way. Classic switchgear abounds, with simple toggles for hazards, headlights, and Sport or Eco drive modes.
It’s rare you’ll find a company so committed to its history that it manages to leapfrog a century of technology and still honor its traditions. The vintage fuel-filler cap looks as classy as ever, even though it’s been repackaged as a plug-in port. The interior features a new digital screen with battery life information, surrounded by wood, brass and polished aluminum.
Maybe the best news to come off all this excitement is that the Morgan EV3 is neither a one-off nor show-car vaporware. The EV3 will be priced comparably to the standard 3-Wheeler when it goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2016 (about $45,000-$50,000). What’s more, Morgan will continue to hone its new-found eye for the future with a £6 million grant from the British government to develop more hybrid and EV Morgan models going forward.