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Lightning Strikes Twice

December 15, 2009

Sizzling Sexy Cars and Killer Transformer Jet Fighters

Fitting in nicely with our current theme of exploring exciting advances in composites and drive-by-wire in automotive and aerospace design, here’s a couple examples of new lightning from the UK and the US that are sizzling…

First this sexy beast from England that can go nose to nose with Tesla and Fisker.

For the sheer thrill of immediate, powerful acceleration and with a top speed capability of more than 130mph, the electric Lightning will be a difficult proposition to beat.

The Lightning car company is proud to release the UK’s first electric GT sports car.

Combining classic, British sports car design with racing car technology and state of the art NanoSafe™ battery power and Hi-Pa Drive™ electric motor innovation

Until now, battery technology has hindered electric vehicle innovation. In 2000, US company Altairnano Inc. established a research programme to create an ultra safe, high power battery using cutting-edge Nanotechnology. The result of their hard work is the NanoSafe™ battery.

The compact, energy-efficient, electric wheel motors produce unrivalled levels of torque with internal heavy-duty tapered roller bearings that can withstand heavy radial loads for robust use. Yet they achieve the power to weight ratio important for the performance sports car capability of the Lightning.

Car 0-60mph Power
Jaguar 5.0 V8 XK Coupe 5.2 Secs 380 bhp
Toyota Prius [Hybrid] 1.8 T4 10.4 Secs 134 bhp
Electric Lightning GT sub 5.0 Secs 500+ bhp

* Comparative data from Sept 09

Brian Cooley, Editor-at-large for CNET TV took an early look at the Lightning GT in this video

It’s not your father’s electric golf cart, of course with a price tag of north of $200k, it may not be something within his budget.

This car uses the Hi-Pa Drive System in-wheel motor technology. It acts as an electric motor, generator or brake and is several times lighter, smaller and powerful than the conventional electronic propulsion systems and generators it replaces. By putting the electric drive system in the wheels designers can use a true electric drive-by-wire power and control system in the vehicle, eliminating the mechanics and hydraulics of a transmission, drive train and differential. This is similar to modern fighters that use a fly-by-wire technology. The Lightning GT also shares aerospace material technology. The lightweight construction consists of a composite monocoque structure combined with a carbon fibre/Kevlar bodywork.

Also see smart in-wheel motors in this concept vehicle from Volvo…

Volvo Electric Car with In-Wheel Motors. Only about 15% of the energy from the fuel you put in your tank gets used to move your car down the road or run useful accessories, such as air conditioning. The rest of the energy is lost to engine and driveline inefficiencies and idling. the Volvo hybrid EV was introduced at the 2006 Frankfurt Auto Show.

Second lighting strike is the Lockheed Martin F35.

F35 Lightning II-Fighter of The Future.

Watch this kick-ass stealth fighter do its stuff. It swings around its tail jet like some kind of giant killer insect for vertical takeoffs, vibrating with fire and power, rising with eerie magic, hovering impossibly, then descends and lands, its struts flexing like an Olympic gymnast.

The F35 is frightenly beautiful, like a shark as it powerfully maneuvers though the air. As a youth, I served as a US Navy Avionics Technician and got to work on and crew a variety of Vietnam era aircraft. I’m not a plane nut, but like industrial robotics, navy fighter technology is as tough as it gets  in making advanced stuff work in the real world and for me that’s where the rubber meets the road.

Besides the VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) opening, watch  mid-way in the video, the series of “touch-and-gos” that demonstrate the F35’s dexterity in being able to land or abort quickly and with little runway or flight deck. One should not be enamored with a deadly weapon of war. But, this sweet piece of stealthy composite aerospace engineering deserves to appreciated for what it is, a marvel of science, technology and production that can strike like Zeus’s lightning to smite the enemy.

Talk About Your Killer Transformers…

Wikipedia article intro… The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a fifth-generation, single-seat, single-engine, stealth multirole fighter, that can perform close air supporttactical bombing, and air defense missions.[7] The F-35 has three different models; one is the conventional takeoff and landing variant, the second is short takeoff and vertical-landing variant, and the third is a carrier-based variant.

The F-35 is descended from the X-35, the product of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. Its development is being principally funded by the United States, with the United Kingdom and other partner governments providing additional funding.[8] It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led byLockheed Martin with Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems as major partners.[8] Demonstrator aircraft flew in 2000,[9] with the first flight on 15 December 2006.[10]

More on the F35 firepower from the Discovery Channel…

Back To The Future…

Next post we’ll get back to affordable near-term EV solutions. But, before we do, let’s take a quick trip in the WABAC machine to ride with Ferdinand Porsche in his electric hybrid car with in-wheel motors.

The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid was one of the earliest hybrid vehicles, developed in 1899 by Ferdinand Porsche. It was a series hybrid, with four electric motors mounted in the wheel hubs and electricity delivered by batteries and a small generator. In concept and general layout, it presaged the Volvo ReCharge Concept, the Chevrolet Volt, the Opel Flextreme,the hybrid Cadillac Escalade, and other modern series hybrids.

Electric vehicles were being developed at the dawn of the automobile in the early 1900s. It seems an irony of history that about the same time Ferdinand Porsche was driving around Europe in his hybrid car with electric in-wheel-motors that Oregon outlaw entrepreneur Ellis Hughes and his son were dragging the Willamette Meteorite out of the Willamette Valley mud on their primitive horse drawn log wheeled cart.

1903, Hughes and his son labored for three back-breaking months to move the iron three-quarters of a mile to his house.

“Purloining a 32,000-pound chunk of iron is not an easy task. In August 1903, Hughes began excavating the huge meteorite. Working in great secrecy with the crudest of tools, he was assisted only by his teenage son and an old horse.” Full post…

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2009 3:30 pm

    wow, had never heard about electric lightning GT. Looks really interesting.
    Couldn’t find how much it costs on the site 😦

  2. December 15, 2009 3:48 pm

    Thanks for your comment, the Lightning GT does look wicked cool.

    The company has not committed to a final price yet, but from what I’ve read it’s believed to be somewhere between $200,000 – $250,000. That’s around 2x what the Telsa and Frisker roadsters cost, and about 10x the expected cost of the Nissan Leaf EV.

    In future posts I’ll look at what we are likely to see in the variety and range of future vehicles.

    Stay tuned…


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