Work on the battery-powered Lightning GT sports car is now focused on the production of two development mules by April 2009, the four-man team behind the car has announced.
The Lightning GT test cars will allow a period of testing and development next spring - proving of motors, batteries, chassis and electrical control systems - to be completed in time for deliveries in early 2010.
Lightning GT - Britain’s first electric supercar?
The Lightning GT stands to break the mould for electric cars because it will be powered by four independent ‘in-wheel’ electric motors, rather than one centrally mounted unit.
Supplied by British firm PML Flightlink, the four 160bhp Hi-Pa motors in the Lightning GT have more than 500lb ft of torque each. Because they’re mounted in every wheel, they serve as both engine and drivetrain for the car, removing the need for a conventional transmission.
The motors will also be capable of slowing the car, but for safety reasons, the Lightning GT will also have convention brake discs and calipers. This presents a big challenge to the Lightning GT's chassis tuners, as there's more unsprung mass than in a conventional sports car. The electric motor alone weighs 25kg.
Performance from the Lightning GT should be impressive. Its makers have predicted that it will be capable of 0-60mph in under 4.0sec and will be limited to 130mph.
The Lightning GT uses NanoSafe nano titanate batteries supplied by American firm Altairnano. The batteries promise a longer life expectancy than both lithium ion and nickel metal hydride batteries, and using a three-phase 480v power source, can be 80 per cent charged in just four minutes. The company expects the car to be capable of up to 200 miles between charges.
Lightning Car Company’s history is linked with that of technical director Arthur Wolstenholme’s Lightning sports car, which itself appeared in 2000 as a 325bhp V8-engined sports car with a carbon fibre monocoque.
The Lightning GT electric car may be his biggest and most significant undertaking yet, however, packed as it is with the very latest electric powertrain technology and likely to retail at between £120,000 and £150,000.
The road to production
Despite an overwhelmingly successful debut at the London motor show, LCC is still looking for investors in the Lightning GT. It has yet to finalise the exact specification of the car, or to agree where it will be built.
It is LCC’s intention to build the Lightning GT in the UK and the firm is considering producing it under contract with a UK engineering specialist with spare capacity.