High-Speed Electric Car: Electric Lightning GT

Perhaps it is just a coincidence that we're starting to hear a lot more about electric cars these days now that gas prices have hit record highs. Coincidence or not, automobiles that offer alternatives to traditional fossil-fuel-based, internal combustion engines are gearing up to hit the streets. The latest entrant to this quickly growing field is U.K.-based, Lightning Car Company, which debuted its Electric Lightning GT today at the British Motor Show in London.

Similar to the all-electric, high-performance Tesla Roadster that is now available the Electric Lightning GT will also be a high-performance vehicle--and carry a similar, high-performance price tag. News.com reports that the Electric Lightning GT "is estimated to sell for between about £120,000-£150,000 (about $240,000 - $300,000), according to reports," and should be available sometime in 2009. Also appearing on roads next year will be an electric version of the more modestly-priced, Mini Cooper Clubman. And for the truly cost conscious, a $16,000 electric car from Philadelphia-based BG Automotive Group is scheduled to start rolling out of the factory before this year's end. The $16,000 car from BG Automotive Group will top out at 25mph; but the company promises a high-speed version in 2009.

Credit: Lightning Car Company

While the inexpensive vehicle from BG Automotive Group will be chugging away in the slow lane, the Electric Lightning GT should be whizzing by it at up to a claimed 130mph. The company claims that the car will go from 0 to 60mph in 4 seconds, which is only 0.1 second slower than the 3.9mph that Tesla claims for its Roadster. The Electric Lightning GT will not have an engine in the traditional sense. Instead, it will use individual "Hi-Pa Drive" motors on each of the four wheels, with a combined power of over 700bhp (brake horsepower):

"We've chosen the very best drive system technology available anywhere in the world. This advanced motor technology now has phenomenal torque and power capability which is integrated within a wheel assembly. There are no gearboxes, differential, axle, drive shafts or propshafts to contend with. All of the power is generated at the wheel, the point at which it's required, which eliminates mechanical complexity and power losses experienced in standard sports cars. These lightweight and ultra powerful motors don't add significant extra unsprung weight and are therefore ideal in that position."

Powering the motors will be "NanoSafe" batteries, which Lightning claims "use nano titanate materials instead of graphite which makes them far more thermally stable--there are no toxics or heavy metals used in NanoSafe batteries." The company further states that the "batteries have a life expectancy of 12+ years" and "can retain up to 85% charge capacity after 15,000 charges." Using a standard household-based single-phase power outlet, the batteries will charge "overnight." However, the batteries can be charged in as quick as 10 minutes from a commercial three-phase power supply. Unlike more traditional battery technologies, Lightning claims that the Electric Lightning GT's NanoSafe batteries "will work in temperatures between 75°C and minus 30°C" that "don't need to be kept cool when charged/used or heated to get them to perform in sub zero temperatures." Lighting states that a full charge will provide up to 200 miles of driving. Also helping to power the car will be a regenerative braking system.

As of yet, Lightning does not have plans to market the Electric Lightning GT in the U.S., but says that it is "looking into the necessary Federal certification requirements" to do so.