June 22, 2007 Electric cars just keep getting sexier. Once the domain of TreeHuggers (until recently a derogatory term), they have now reached a level of design and performance that will appeal to even the most die-hard of sports car fans. We've seen the Venturi Fetish, Connaught, Tesla, MINI QED and ZAP-X Crossover SUV, all of which show that not only are electric motors just as good as the internal combustion engine for producing power, they're better, and cleaner and more cost-efficient and... now there's the Lightning.
Taking its design cues from quintessential British sports cars like the Aston Martin or TVR, the Lightning Electric Car promises to deliver performance rivalling anything currently on the market. The Lightning GT will boast 700+bhp and should completely erode any doubts about the performance capabilities of electric cars. Three versions of the GT are currently planned for a 2008 release, - a luxury model, a lightweight sports model capable of reaching 0-60mph in less than four seconds and an extended range model designed to travel up to 250 miles on a single 10 minute charge.
First designed with a standard petrol combustion engine to develop the car’s chassis dynamics, the Lightning is made from an aluminum honeycomb and carbon composite structure. Such material is common in Formula One racing and combines low mass with great strength. The Lightning uses a sophisticated regenerative energy system that captures excess friction from the braking process and converts it to charge the car's batteries. This technology is also set to become part of Formula One from 2008 when KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) become mandatory (link) and will enable the Lightning’s range to be extended to over 250 miles/400km.
The car can be fully-charged overnight via a Standard single phase home type power source and a three-phase power supply is required for fast charging.
The Lightning Car Company is backed by 25 years of automotive experience from design and engineering personnel whose industry experience includes McLaren, Lola, Ronart and Vanwall. The business owners jointly share a clear vision of an electric-powered future for high performance motoring and are pursuing the use of new generation electric battery and motor technologies derived from application in the aerospace industry.
Arthur Wolstenholme, Technical Director at Lightning explains, “Ten, or perhaps even five years ago, electric power was dismissed as a poor substitute for petrol, diesel or LPG. But the world has moved on significantly – from military and aerospace applications, electric motor and battery technologies have been developed that will enable the Lightning to demonstrate 700 plus bhp performance over a range that exceeds some of today’s petrol performance cars. What’s more, the Lightning is intended to compete with premium market sport cars, but our electric power should outstrip the response rates, torque characteristics and driveability of most exotic performance super cars. Electric power has truly arrived in the performance market.”
The running costs of a Lightning GT are certain to be significantly lower than a tradition petrol combustion sports car. In fact the Lightning could be as much as £10,000 per year cheaper to run than a Audi RS4 based on an average 20,000 miles of motoring according to the manufacturers.
The electric Lightning prototypes are expected to be complete by the end of the year and pre-orders are being taken for 2008 delivery. The price tag is expected to be in the £150,000 range depending on the choice of customized options for interior and exterior finishes and accessories.