A crude concept that could become a desirable electric sports car

What is it?

Here you’re looking at the beginning of Ginetta’s electric revolution.

The Ginetta G50 EV Prototype is a pure-electric, rear-wheel drive sports car that the Leeds-based company believes it can make road-car reality within the next few years.

Developed in conjunction with Zytek Engineering (another British company) the G50 EV gets a 90kw electric motor mounted in front of its rear axle that sends power straight through a differential to the wheels.

Three sodium nickel-chloride batteries, chosen for their reliability, are placed in the nose of the car and where the fuel tank would go and are encased in steel and surrounded by a vacuum for extra safety.

These can be recharged at a standard 13-amp three-point plug socket, will take six hours to charge from flat and will provide the G50 with up to 250 miles range, though even company execs admit that average use will reduce that to 200 miles.

But the Ginetta is different in that it is guaranteed to return a minimum range of 150 miles.

This is achieved partially by the advanced batteries and brushless DC motor, but is more to do with a fly-by-wire throttle that limits power usage to extend range. Ginetta maintains that even with hard track use the G50 EV would achieve 150 miles.

What’s it like?

The basic set-up of the electric Ginetta is taken straight from the G50 race car, and as such you get race car levels of feel and response. The steering is heavy but perfectly weighted and satisfying to use, providing a real sense of connection with the car.

Cornering ability is equally track-worthy, with no body roll involved and very firm suspension proving that a circuit is probably the best place for the G50 EV Prototype.

Still, the suspension can’t be criticised as it’s not yet been altered for road-use, when it will get much more forgiving damping – something that it really needs if it’s to be usable as a road car.

Throttle response is a strange sensation, as you don’t get the immediate and ample torque that many consider a huge advantage of the electric motor.

Rather you get a steady build of power more like that of a naturally aspirated engine – a result of the throttle trickery implemented to improve the range.

Because of this the car doesn’t feel quick. In fact if feels quite sedate when you initially stab the throttle and don’t get the instant propulsion you would generally expect.

The G50 EV Protype is still a long way from finished, and it will be a different proposition when it is. For a start, it’s likely that production cars will get variable settings to offer different power outputs depending on whether you want performance or range.

In this Prototype form the G50 EV is a crude thing to experience, but even so it’s obvious how much potential there is in the concept of a car with this level of handling ability, an electric motor with usable range and a reasonable price tag.

Should I buy one?

You can’t, and it’s likely that you won’t be able to for a while yet.

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Even company execs admit that the production of the EV is dependant on battery evolution and prices.

But the will is there and the G50 EV proves that the company also has the know-how. Ginetta could well go on to create a desirable and attainable electric sports car.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
highland tourer 26 August 2009

Re: Ginetta G50 EV Prototype

When won't someone focus on building an electric mid-size people carrier?! Currently it seems to be large exec-barges when really the owners are looking for the ultimate limo, not a compromised milk-float ("sorry boss, I can't drive you to the airport - the car is out of charge. Should be ready to run in 2-3 hours!!") or sports cars, where more usually than not, the handling is upset by increased weight and the car has limited range when driven enthusiastically. Also, usually the "fun" roads are in the countryside where there will not be a profusion of electric plugs to recharge the car. Essentially what is needed is a vehicle which has some under-floor space, is not usually going to be propelling Boss from Munich to Milan at high speed (via power socket connectors) and is not going to be driven enthusiastically- a mid-size people carrier!!!!

The bulky batteries could be under the floor of the front, middle and rear seats, the additional size of the car's body could have solar pannelling to attempt to increase re-charging, re-generative brakes, wind power sources at the front of the car (behind "engine" grille) to aid in high-speed recharging. Whilst the technology underneath may well be expensive, the manufacturer could always base the mpv on an ex-van chassis (such as the previous Citroen Berlingo, the VW Caddy, VW Transporter, to name a few)- this could save some of the manufacturing cost and offset the technology costs to the customer. Most mpvs will be used short distances for trips to school, shops, friends, social events and home and be driven usually slowly with minimal use of the performance. In between use, the solars could slowly aid the recharging.

As for the Ginetta, looks cheap (compared to the £90k Tesla Roadster) and could prove more deft at handling with the better weight distribution.

Talksteer 26 August 2009

Re: Ginetta G50 EV Prototype

Peter Cavellini wrote:
Same old problems, cost to much, limited range, novelty factor,and not all that green either, i'd be more impressed if it ran on hydrogen, if the government got its finger out and moved on these ideas, we'd reach our emission target sooner, electric sports car, no thanks, maybe they should look at BMW's ideas.

Hydrogen is insane, it is a engery inefficent method of storing electrical power. Compared to batteries its only advantages are potentially a superior energy to weight and the ability to refuel it relatively rapidly. A fuel cell is also equally as expensive proposition as a battery as well.

Add to that the cost of infrastructure and the fact that all the hydrogen in your tank will escape after about two weeks if you leave it on your drive and it starts to look extra insane.

Electric vehicles charging overnight from domesitc outlets and being charged rapidly (10-15 min) in the day time using three phase power is far more feasible as most of the infrastructure already exists. I doubt most people on a long journey would mind if they had to take a 10 minute break on a motorway every 3-4 hours.

daddy 3 25 August 2009

Re: Ginetta G50 EV Prototype

sierra wrote:

"...don't swap one cartel for another.." [two cartels]

lithium...and the electricity supply owned by the French and Spanish.

Dont forget the Germans E.on.

By the time they get this tec sorted there will be none of these metals left to mine. The future ,Hydrogen-steam or nuclear fuelled cars?. I have just been reading about a steam pressured engine fitted to a mini,maybe we will end up going back in time to the power of steam.

What ever happens i dont think that battery powerd cars are going to be the solution.