Will Lightning Strike in the UK?
A native car company unveils a 700-horsepower electric supercar at the British Motor Show 2008 — but will it really work?
Well here's a shock: a good looking British sports car (sorry Lotus). This is the Lightning GT, and instead of guzzling super unleaded it creates 700 horsepower using batteries.
Or so the Lightning Car Company claims. But we'll leave off being cynical for a moment (don't worry, it is only for a moment) and continue telling you just how good this thing looks. It is all classic GT: long hood, low curving roofline, and massive multi-spoke alloy wheels, complete with a major surprise.
Those blue discs? They ain't the brakes — at least not in the traditional sense. The Lightning GT uses four hub-mounted electric motors, providing direct drive to the wheels. Combined with just 30 battery packs, these deliver the electric equivalent of "700 horsepower+" and each motor can be individually controlled.
This means the car can modify the speed of the wheels depending on steering angle and velocity, and presumably any other parameter the team can program into the system — suspension load, for example. This should lead to exceptionally dynamic handling — assuming all the computers are talking to each other.
Zero to 60 mph will, apparently, take less than four seconds — "when it's fully developed." This leads us to the more eyebrow-raising areas of the Lightning’s specifications. Having just 30 batteries is surprising enough (most electric supercars use far more than that), but the claim is these give the car a 300-km [186-mile] range — on just a 10-minute charge.
This is, quite frankly, unbelievable. That's not to say the Lightning Car Company hasn't achieved it — it does have video footage of the car moving under its own power displayed on the stand at the British Motor Show 2008 — but we would really like to see a full demonstration before even thinking about handing over any money.
Lightning officials say deliveries could start in 2010, but the company still requires investment to make that happen. It also claims "£20,000+ [US$40,000+] savings on annual running costs versus equivalent petrol sports car" — very bold. But if your biggest concern is the lack of an exciting engine note, fear not: the Lightning GT includes a “sound module.”
You can blast out the sound of a smooth V6 or throaty V12, or cruise along in serenity of silence. Make of that what you will. We love the concept of the Lightning GT — the look, the idea, the innovation, the British engineering. But my goodness, we need some convincing that the thing is really going to work.
Christopher Hubbard (of MSN Cars UK) began working at editorial agency Motoring Research soon after graduating from Coventry University's MA in Automotive Journalism in 2006. So far he hasn't crashed anything and is thoroughly enjoying fulfilling the ambition he's always had to become a motoring writer. Don't ask him about working in retail though, or he might start to twitch...
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Will Lightning Strike in the UK? In one word, NO. In a lot of words, 186 miles on a 10 minute charge, savings of $40,000 over gas counterpart, taking money for a car that isn't "fully developed", a cheesy "sound module" (if you want your car to sound like it runs on gas, then buy a car that runs on it). It's bordering on out-right lies.
It does look cool, I'll give them that, but right now that is all that they have. A good looking concept.