Currently reading: Electric Morgan Super 3: sub-700kg and 150 miles of range
Morgan returns to EV development with fully functioning concept created by a dedicated in-house team

Morgan has unveiled its second iteration of a battery-electric three-wheeler, this time called XP-1, with its eye set firmly on building its EV technical and manufacturing knowledge to prepare for the arrival of battery-powered models. 

The Morgan XP-1, which uses the body and aluminium monocoque chassis of the Ford-powered Super 3 launched nearly two years ago, has an all-new electric powertrain designed and built in-house under the supervision of the company’s new chief technical officer, Matt Hole, a highly experienced former electrification consultant who has worked for a wide variety of global OEMs for over 15 years. 

Hole said the XP-1 won’t go into production in its current form – and refused to put a date on any showroom version – but confirmed that the prototype was being subjected to testing and inspection regimes as tough as any production model.

For now, he said, its key function is to help Morgan develop “a full vehicle toolchain” - a suite of suitable components and supporting software that can be used for all future Morgans.

The Malvern-based company experimented seven years ago with a 61bhp electric three-wheeler called EV3. It was an elegant-looking, single-headlight design unveiled at the 2016 Geneva motor show.

Like XP-1, it was also styled in-house but back then used the architecture of Morgan’s now-superseded V-twin-powered 3 Wheeler. 

For the EV3, design of the battery and powertrain was left to an outside consultancy whose business foundered before a promised batch of cars, priced around £30,000 a throw, could be delivered.

Company bosses have said the arrival of Hole in 2021 to take charge of Morgan’s technical strategy will ensure no such mistakes are made again.

Morgan XP-1 side

The XP-1 powertrain consists of a surprisingly compact 134bhp electric motor mounted in the chassis’s central tunnel, with a small planetary gearbox on its end to gear the drive correctly before it goes into a 90deg bevel box, as before, and then (by chain, not belt) to the fat single rear wheel.

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The battery, designed at Morgan and built by British firm Fellten, is a 33kWh unit mounted under the bonnet where the engine would normally sit, with the inverter sited under the passenger seat. 

Promised cruising range is around 150 miles, and the performance should be “brisk”, given that the motor has strong low-end torque and the kerb weight is only about 60kg higher than the petrol version’s, meaning it stays below 700kg.

Hole said he was “really pleased” with the way careful component choice had controlled the weight. He said the total powertrain’s sound is natural and “distinctly electric”, although it has been “tuned” for aural quality. 

Morgan XP-1 rear quarter

The basic layout of the XP-1 remains similar to that of a standard Super 3, though it now has adjustable Nitron dampers as the test team experiments with various settings to sharpen its handling and cope with the changes to weight and weight distribution. 

Aerodynamic development via a comprehensive CFD programme has cut the drag factor from a hefty 0.65Cd to a much more respectable 0.42Cd, mainly by refinement of the wheel design and modifications to the rear underbody.

Hole estimated that this work alone could have added between 10 and 20 miles to the XP-1’s potential cruising range.

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Morgan XP-1 front close-up

In broad terms, the XP-1 looks much like the standard Super 3, although its wheel style is different, there’s no exhaust or filler cap and there’s a new nose mounting for the charging socket, designed to supply energy as well as ingest it. “You can plug in a toaster, if you want to,” said Hole.

The four former ventilation slots across the bonnet’s leading edge now contain 100 LEDs that flash as the car is charging to indicate battery’s level. 

Inside, the XP-1 gets a new infotainment screen, both because its driver had no need for much information displayed on the petrol model’s screen and because the XP-1 has a currently experimental Sennheiser sound system that uses actuators mounted directly onto the chassis to create sound, in effect converting the car into a giant “sound box”.

Morgan XP-1 interior

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Morgan marketing director Toby Blythe insisted that an electric Super 3 “doesn’t feature in our two, three or four-year plan” but admitted that demand for an EV could develop quickly and, if it did, the company’s forward planning could change.

On price, both Blythe and Hole were cagey, although the news on this electrified model isn’t as bad as some. Hole said getting “an accurate handle” on a bill of materials is difficult, but he still believed an electric Super 3 could be sold for a price “just north of Super 3”.

For many a modern-minded Morgan enthusiast, that’s good news indeed.

Q&A: Matt Hole, chief technical officer, Morgan Motor Company

Morgan chief technical officer Matt Hole

How similar is the XP-1 to the electric three-wheeler you will eventually put into production?

"Well, it won’t be too different. We’re still experimenting with a lot of components, and we will do for some time, but we adopted a 12-month timetable to complete the car’s exploratory phase, and we’ve done that. We simply don’t have the budget to get it wrong."

Your aero investigations have made big improvements to the original car. Will they go into the petrol model?

"Some could. We tried seven different iterations that led to XP-1’s aerodynamics. We’re pretty pleased with what we’ve done."

Morgan XP-1 charging port

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What handling changes are you making? 

"It’s tuning work, mostly. We’re experimenting with the rear tyre type and pressure. We’ve fitted Nitron adjustable dampers and changed the spring rates. The object is to sharpen the turn-in to cope with a bit of extra weight. Even if there’s no gear-changing to do, we want drivers to find the car really engaging."

You’ve given the XP-1 a selection of driving modes, right?

"Yes, there are four, designated by chili symbols. You decide how spicy you want the car to be, using a mode switch on the tunnel."

Morgan XP-1 dashboard with chilli drive modes

How much of the driving characteristics are distinctly Morgan?

"Oh, plenty. It’s one of the reasons for building such a complete prototype. It’s why we’re choosing the major components carefully and why most of the calibration will be our own. We don’t want to inherit others’ constraints."

What is the XP-1 like to drive?

"Great. It’s easy and fun. But it feels a bit more urgent than the petrol car, because of the low-end power delivery. That gives it a character of its own."

Steve Cropley

Steve Cropley Autocar
Title: Editor-in-chief

Steve Cropley is the oldest of Autocar’s editorial team, or the most experienced if you want to be polite about it. He joined over 30 years ago, and has driven many cars and interviewed many people in half a century in the business. 

Cropley, who regards himself as the magazine’s “long stop”, has seen many changes since Autocar was a print-only affair, but claims that in such a fast moving environment he has little appetite for looking back. 

He has been surprised and delighted by the generous reception afforded the My Week In Cars podcast he makes with long suffering colleague Matt Prior, and calls it the most enjoyable part of his working week.

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Peter Cavellini 6 December 2023

So, an effective range of 60-75 miles,or, trailer it to wherever.

gagaga 6 December 2023

To be fair (for once to an EV), that's probably okay for this.  A decent blast in a loop then home, or stop for a cuppa somewhere to top it off enough to get home.

Unlike the woeful (real) range in most EVs, you're not going to be taking this down the M1 on a wet Friday night.

MrJ 6 December 2023

Indifferent range takes it away from my must-buy category.

But nice to consider when/if battery technology doubles (or triples) this.

I loved the EV3 for its Cyclops-eye styling, but there's plenty of time to add fizz.

astonandy 6 December 2023

For almost everywhere that I want to drive to in it, 150 miles (120 real world, especially in winter) simply isn't enough. try taking this to the Brecon Beacons or on the NC500 and finding a charger. I'm not sure with current battery tech that Morgan (or anyone with a small profile) is ever going to produce a car that meets its justification/use-case. I really want to like it but it's not visceral like the ICE version so it's kinda like a modern faster Twizy