“What if an all-electric vehicle was bespoke, hand-crafted, and exhilarating to drive?”
That’s the question Morgan Motor Company asked aloud when it introduced the EV3 project in 2015, with plans to sell an electric three-wheeler beginning in the fourth quarter of 2016.
It didn’t happen. In 2018, Morgan cancelled the project, laying the blame at the feet of its technology partner, engineering firm Frazer-Nash, which was supposed to deliver the electric powertrain to Morgan ‘turn-key.’ But Frazer-Nash was embroiled in legal trouble regarding unpaid debts and didn’t make those deliveries.
At the time, Morgan said that it remained interested in the project, and that it planned to bring the programme closer in-house, dedicating more resources to EV research and development.
Apparently, that’s precisely what’s gone on the last five years. Morgan has just announced the XP-1, an experimental electric three-wheeler very much in the spirit of the EV3, with one big difference: “The XP-1’s battery, motor, and inverter combination represents Morgan’s first-ever powertrain, be that internal-combustion or battery-electric,” Morgan says. The company has always outsourced powertrains, but this one was developed by Morgan’s own staff.
“The powertrain,” Morgan says, “engineered specifically for XP-1, gives its engineers complete control of calibrations to create a range of driving modes featuring a mix of driving characteristics, providing the opportunity to define exactly how an electric Morgan should drive.”
The company stresses that the XP-1 is strictly experimental. “Following 12 months of design and build, XP-1 will now embark on a comprehensive testing programme over the next 18–24 months.” That said, the XP-1 is built on an existing platform – the monocoque chassis of the Super 3.
It seems likely that the production-ready version of the XP-1 might also use the Super 3’s platform. Morgan says that research has “enabled aerodynamic improvements on the XP-1 over Super 3, simulating multiple design iterations to ensure maximum range and efficiency, resulting in a 33 percent reduction in drag coefficient.”
“We are in no doubt that we can ensure future electric Morgan sports cars retain the core appeal of our current range, meaning they are fun to drive, lightweight, handcrafted, and bespoke. We will be relentless in our pursuit of preserving these characteristics for our customers for generations to come,” says Matt Hole, Morgan Motor Company’s chief technical officer.
Morgan has not released any specific performance goals for the XP-1. For 2015’s EV3, the company targeted a 0-62mph time of nine seconds, with a top speed of over 90mph. Weight would be under 500kg including the wood frame and mostly carbon fibre body, with a range of 120 to 150 miles. Its price was to be comparable to that of Morgan’s gas-powered three-wheelers.
By comparison, the Super 3 is powered by a 1432cc three-cylinder engine. It weighs 635kg and goes from 0 to 62 mph in seven seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph. Its starting price is £43,165.
After one electrical misstep with the EV3, it seems likely that whatever production vehicle results from the XP-1 experimentation, Morgan will get it right. “XP-1 continues our core principle of developing cars with an undiluted driving experience,” Morgan says.
Long may that continue.