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25 June, 2007 - 10:13 By Staff Reporter

Lightning strikes with new battery-run ‘super car’

The East of England’s ability to reach new heights of innovation in the automotive sector and produce technologies capable of transforming the motoring industry’s approach to environmentally important topics was demonstrated again this week when the Peterborough-based Lightning Car Company revealed its high-performance entirely battery-run super car.

Joining innovators such as Lotus, racing technology norfolk, Lola and Axon, Lightning has announced its development of a range of 700 bhp Lightning electric cars, for the first time genuinely harnessing electric motive power and uniting it with class-leading sports car design, engineering and production.

Heavy interest in the technology is already being shown and the company intends to start meeting demand in 2008.

There are three Lightning models planned: The Grand Tourer, a competent and quick car which maintains a depth of luxury and specification; the Lightning Sport, the GT’s lightweight, purposeful cousin, with a target of 0-60 in under four seconds; and an extended range model with the capability of reaching an estimated 250 miles on a single 10 minute charge.

Ownership costs of the Lightning range are set to be significantly lower than traditional fossil fuelled vehicles. With exemption from road tax, congestion charging and an urban cycle energy cost estimated at 2.2p per mile, Lightning estimates it could be as much as £10,000 per year cheaper to run than an Audi RS4 based on an average 20,000 miles of motoring.

Lightning’s technology is based on the work of three companies.

It took the nanotechnology in the form of the NanoSafe™ batteries from US-based Altairnano and the motor technology – Hi-Pa Drive™ – from Hampshire electrics specialist, PML Flightlink, moulding it with the its own chassis, body and interior designs.

Competition in the form of electric cars does exist and many of the major manufacturers have produced and are running prototype electric vehicles, but Lightning MD, Chris Dell, believes his company has something extra to offer.

“Lightning seeks to provide the discerning individual with stunning performance, credible range and a charging time that allows the vehicle to be used as an everyday performance sports car,” said Dell.

Funding so far has come from a single, unnamed private investor and Dell says the firm is seeking to raise further funds with a number of interested investors, which should eventually be propped up by orders.

“We have received an enormous amount of interest worldwide and are speaking to a number of individuals who wish to place deposits for orders and establish delivery timelines,” said Dell.

“I have also had calls from potential customers who would like to place an order but are waiting to drive the prototype before doing so – We hope they will be able to do so before the end of the year.”

Lightning has been working in consultation with supplier partners PML and Altairnano on the science behind range capability and is confident that come production time the GTSE (GT Sports Extended range) model will be capable of covering 250 miles on a single charge.

The firm will not be able to confirm at what speed until next month, following further testing of the technologies.

Because of the silent nature of an electric car and the lack of a fuel tank, gear box and regular engine, Lightning has a flexibility that other car manufacturers do not, including choosing what sound it makes.

The battery, for instance says Dell, is able to go anywhere the company wants it to: “The Lightning is a large GT and by removing the major components of a petrol fuelled vehicle, we are left with a large flat platform on which to mount the batteries.

“We will be determining their exact placement in the prototype to maximise performance handling of the vehicle.

“From a safety perspective the vehicle will need to make a noise externally to ensure pedestrians and other road users are aware of its proximity.

“Due to the electric nature of the vehicle we are able to produce almost any sound internally and externally we desire, although it is not our focus at this stage of the build.”


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