Power Up: Five Electric Vehicles We’d Actually Drive
Most rabid petrolheads have trained themselves to hate electric vehicles. They’re too quiet, too sterile, and don’t hold the same appeal as gas-powered autos.
But the electric scene is growing—rapidly. That means that more boutique manufacturers are springing up, and striving to make electric rides that don’t suck. Plus, when you consider that electric vehicles are low maintenance and make whopping torque—instantaneously—the future doesn’t seem quite as bleak.
Here are five battery-powered vehicles that we’d happily get behind the wheels (or handlebars of).
I’ll admit, I was completely oblivious to the EV3’s existence until Gareth Crossley asked me; “have you seen Morgan’s electric roadster?” Now I can’t stop thinking about it.
The EV3 might be battery-powered, but it’s just as gorgeous as anything else from the British manufacturer—and arguably the most evocative vehicle in their stable. True to standard Morgan Motor Company operating procedure, the three-wheeled EV3 is hand crafted—with composite carbon and aluminium panels laid over an ash wood frame. From the kicked up tail (a cue taken from Morgan’s 1930s race cars), to the low slung lights and cylindrical side pods, the roadster’s stance is low and purposeful. Stunning details abound—like the spoked wheels, and the brass cooling fins on the battery casing.
The EV3’s powered by a liquid cooled, 46kW motor, running off a 20KWh Lithium-ion battery. Morgan list the weight as sub-500kg, the range as 150 miles, and the top speed at 90mph. The only number we don’t have, is the price—there’s been no official word on that, or a final release date. We’re waiting with bated breath.
When it launched, Rimac Automobili’s Concept_One was hailed as being the world’s first electric supercar. With 1 088hp on tap, it does 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds, and even smoked a Tesla P90d and Ferrari LaFerrari.
So what did Rimac do? They built the Concept_S. It has 296 more horses, and 200Nm more torque, than the Concept_One—and it weighs 50kg less. That brings the final numbers to 1 384hp, 1 800Nm and 1 800kg. Let that sink in for a minute.
The Concept_S has a new aero package too, improving downforce by 34 percent. But, more importantly, it’s running an updated version of Rimac’s Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring system. It’s the same system that ran in Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima’s race car, when he dominated the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. In the simplest terms, it uses sensors and higher grade maths to calculate the optimal amount of torque for each wheel—a hundred times a second. It effectively handles traction control, stability control, and ‘ABS’ duties all at once, and can be controlled by the driver.
Visually, the Concept_S is all business; racy and curvy on the outside, and premium on the inside with loads of carbon fibre, Alcantara and CNC-machined buttons. As for the price: if you have to ask, well…
VINTAGE ELECTRIC SIDECAR RIG
Looking for a change of pace? Based in California, Vintage Electric manufacture a range of retro E-bikes that borrow inspiration from classic motorcycling. You’re looking at a custom sidecar rig, built using the company’s Tracker model as a starting point.
The standard Tracker uses a 3 000W, three phase brushless hub motor, and 702Wh Lithium-ion battery, that’s housed in a gorgeous cast aluminum casing. Top speed is listed at 20mph, or 35mph if you spring for the optional ‘Race’ package, with a total range of 35 miles and a charge time of two hours. It’s a real head-turned, with a hydro-formed aluminium frame, a classy LED headlight and a saddle and grips from Brooks.
Vintage Electric built this sidecar on request, using a chassis developed by Mike Leeds of the Blastolene Brothers. The upholstery was handled by a local company that restores Jaguar interiors. The whole setup runs two controllers, four batteries (two are hiding behind the seat in the sidecar), two motors, and a single throttle and regenerative brake that operates both drivetrains. Even the rear disc brakes are linked to one lever.
There are no plans to produce more rigs like this one, but Vintage Electric has said they’d consider building another one on commission. So get that credit card ready.
ALTA MOTORS REDSHIFT ST
Alta Motors’ Redshift motocross and supermoto models have been well-received—but if neither of those are your bag, perhaps their ST concept will appeal to you. It’s a street tracker in the truest sense—a flat track-inspired bike made for hooning around the city. The layout is refreshingly simple, with a one-piece body laid across the top, reminiscent of trials bikes. The ST also rolls on 19” carbon fibre wheels from BST, wrapped in street legal flat track tyres.
With 120 ft-lbs of torque on hand—and only 114kg to move—it should be a blast to ride. A six hour charge will give you a range of 80km, which is fine for urban use. The bad news is that, right now, the ST is a just a concept. Here’s hoping it makes it into production soon.
How do you build an electric vehicle that has all the visual appeal of a classic VW Beetle? Simple: gut an actual Beetle, and rebuild it with an all-electric drivetrain. That’s Zelectric’s approach, and it’s pure genius.
Starting with a stock Beetle, Zelectric strip everything out, then add an electric 3-phase 65kW AC motor, a 32kWh Lithium battery pack and a 650 amp controller with a custom cooling system. Everything is installed using custom-made mounts and cases, so nothing on the bug itself is cut or welded. You end up with a range of 80-100 miles, a lot more horsepower, and a top speed of 100mph. You also end up with a really quiet Beetle, which is just weird.
Zelectric usually keep a couple of ready-made Bugs on hand, which start at $68 000. Or, if you bring your own, they’ll rebuild it for between $49 000 and $60 000, depending on your needs. Oh, and they’re just as happy to tackle a Microbus, Karmann Ghia or just about anything else.