As Britain’s four grandest car manufacturers prepared their four wheel drive SUVs, Morgan defied the new conformity, and introduced a one wheel drive vehicle in late 2011.
The three wheeler has vastly exceeded sales expectations with over 2000 sold to date. Morgan may well prefer that we didn’t know just how well their three wheeler is doing by comparison with the rest of the range. 2013 and 2014 three wheeler sales were well over double the combined numbers for the four wheeled offerings, and over its four full years of production it has accounted for 55% of Morgan production.
The EV3 electric three-wheeler introduced at Geneva should be no surprise. Morgan have shown electric concepts previously, at last they’ve taken the short step to production reality, with deliveries starting in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Tradition be damned, the replacement of the 2 litre V Twin S&S pedestrian disemboweller with a 62bhp water cooled motor has done nothing but good for the three wheeler’s looks. In an on-stand chat with Morgan’s Head of Design Jonathan Wells, I was told that the styling is inspired by speed trials machines; belly-tankers, lakesters, and streamlined motorcycles, with which he has a fascination. The hard tonneau and offset headlight are part of that design ethos.
There’s plenty of surprise and delight, from the finned brass heatsink for the lithium batteries, to the Lucas magneto switch re-purposed as a drive selector. Wells shares my enthusiasm for the design advantages of electric drivetrains, notably the ability to achieve a very low centre of gravity. He also revealed that the EV3 is usefully cheaper to build than the internal combustion trike, although both will be sold at the same price.
I asked about sales targets. The Wells answer is that Morgan don’t know what to expect in terms of an electric / IC split. However, Steve Morris, Morgan’s MD earlier made much of a tie-up with Selfridges for marketing the EV3, suggesting that it is being pitched at a customer base outwith diehard Morgan traditionalists.
I don’t quite fit into that category, but I’ve been observing Morgan’s ups and downs over the last few years with interest. For a tiny manufacturer –fewer than 600 vehicles last year – it is astonishingly complex in its technologies, and diverse in its product range. Broadening the appeal of their diminutive cash-cow can only be a good thing; we should be thankful that they didn’t go down the Cayenne of Bentayga route.