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The Sunday Times - Britain
June 19, 2005
Morgan engages eco-overdrive
Jonathan Leake, Environmental Editor
MORGAN, the classic car maker, is to build what it claims will be the world’s first environmentally friendly sports car, intended to produce zero emissions while matching petrol-driven rivals for speed and handling.
The vehicle, powered by a fuel cell which converts hydrogen into electricity, would produce nothing but water vapour and would be ultra-quiet.
If it succeeds, the project could help to solve one of the most challenging tasks facing the modern motor industry: how to keep making cars that are fun and fast while also meeting rapidly growing concerns over damage to the environment.
Charles Morgan, corporate strategy director of the Morgan Motor Company and project director of LIFEcar, the name for the new vehicle, said: “We accept the problems of climate change and think that it would be irresponsible for any manufacturer not to act.”
The project will involve some of Britain’s leading engineering and design experts, with Qinetiq, the former government defence research agency, developing the fuel cell and BOC, the industrial gas company, producing the hydrogen refuelling plant.
The new car would represent a big departure for Morgan, better known for the traditional style and appearance of its models together with the throaty roar of its engines. The hydrogen car, part-funded by the Department of Trade and Industry, will be based on the 150mph-plus Morgan Aero 8.
Fuel cells can deliver high top speeds but the way they work makes it difficult to generate the surges of power needed to accelerate hard and so impress would-be buyers.
Morgan and its partners plan to solve this problem using powerful capacitors, devices which store electricity and then release it rapidly.
Britain so far has just one filling station for hydrogen. It opened in March on a dual carriageway near Hornchurch in Essex.
However, with BMW putting the finishing touches to a hydrogen-fuelled version of its 7-series saloon, and other manufacturers following suit, the demand could soon grow.
Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, welcomed the £1.9m project, which is expected to produce a prototype in two to three years.
“People will have to get used to quiet sports cars. What we also need is for the government to help to establish this technology and create a network of hydrogen filling stations,” he said.