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Transportation Power United Kingdom Technology

Morgan, Maker of Classic Handmade Sports Cars, Is Going Electric (arstechnica.com) 51

Ars Technica reports that Morgan, idiosyncratic maker of idiosyncratic cars, is about to make a move that might seem surprising, in light of the company's tradition of conservative design. "Yes," says the article, "you'll be able to buy a wood-framed electric car in 2019." From the article: The Morgan Motor Companyâ"best known for still using postwar styling and wooden body frames for some of its carsâ"will have a full hybrid and electric range within the next three years. The British car maker is going to invest $8.6 million (£6 million) to develop hybrid and electric powertrains for all the models in its range by 2019, working in conjunction with Delta Motorsport and Potenza technology.
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Morgan, Maker of Classic Handmade Sports Cars, Is Going Electric

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  • make an electric horse carriage .
    But then what would the horses do ?
    Pretend of course !
    • by ffkom ( 3519199 )
      Just build a Flintstones-style car with coarse stone-made wheels and put some e-motor on the axis. Then sell stock to gullible investors.
    • make an electric horse carriage .
      But then what would the horses do ?
      Pretend of course !

      Do you mean the electric horses or the other kind?

      This is where hyphens come in handy: electric-horse carriage vs. electric horse-carriage.

  • Kind of heartwarming to see Malvern make the news somehow, especially on /.
    • Kind of heartwarming to see Malvern make the news somehow, especially on /.

      You ought to suggest to the Town Council that they rename it "Elon Musk" then you'll be guaranteed an hilarious oops-not-that-Elon-Musk story at least once a week.

  • Old News (Score:5, Funny)

    by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:17PM (#51424779)

    I had an electric Morgan years and years ago. Electric, in the sense that when the petrol engine died, I could put it in gear, and crank the electric starter motor to pull it up the drive and into the shed, so that I could investigate what went wrong this time.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Did starters used to be well built enough for that? Afaik anything more than a few seconds cranking risks burning out the starters on modern vehicles.

      • You can do this with any old non computer controlled vehicle with a traditional clutch. You only need to disable the neutral safety switch and pull the coil lead off. Less than 30 seconds is fine. With a cooling down period between.

        • I recently had to do this (and slam shift) on my Honda beater when it's clutch master cylinder failed. Got me home, no big.

      • Considering that these are high dollar custom built cars I suspect that putting in an over sized starter motor would be both a minimal additional cost and a selling point.

        Also, I recall my high school physics teacher stating something similar about a car he owned. He said he'd use the starter to move a "dead" car to the side of the road.

        Another data point is a former co-worker told me how he built a go-cart that was propelled by a starter motor from an old truck. He use a set of automotive batteries and h

      • by Duhavid ( 677874 )

        I had a Nissan Pickup ( 1986 ) that I did this with, just to see. Just moved it a bit.
        Had a 1992 BMW 525 with the clutch interlock out where I could do this as well.
        Dont recommend it, but it does work, sometimes.

  • A hand rolled Morgan electric racer would totally rock!

  • When you see names like the +4+, you start to wonder whether Morgan was founded by time travelling Lisp hackers.

  • For those of you who are concerned, the "idiosyncratic cars" link in TFS goes to Forbes, with all that entails. The other links look clean.

  • by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @08:19PM (#51425605)

    There was a TV show some years ago - a proto-reality show - where a management consultant was brought into a company to upgrade their processes, in a bid to improve profitability.

    Morgan was one of the companies visited by this smarmy git and his TV crew. Now, the Morgan production line is, well, antiquated. The cars (at the time) were largely hand-built, using hand tools, even hand-powered tools. The visiting expert tried to convince them to automate some of the manufacturing to increase production volume, and to start using cheaper materials to reduce costs. They flat-out said "no", and you could see the expert fail to understand their reasoning. Their orderbook was full for a number of years, they were happy with what they were doing, and the way they were doing it. The expert just couldn't comprehend why they didn't want to change.

    And now they're going electric. Who owns Morgan now?

    • by damnbunni ( 1215350 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @09:24PM (#51425869) Journal

      It's a corporation; it's owned by shareholders. (It's not a subsidiary of someone else, which is probably what you meant.)

      The current chairman is a longtime friend of the late Peter Morgan, apparently.

      Morgans are all still hand-built, though they may have improved efficiency in their assembly; the waiting list is apparently down to six months.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's a corporation; it's owned by shareholders. (It's not a subsidiary of someone else, which is probably what you meant.)

        It is wholly owned by Morgan Technologies for a couple years now. And they do have shareholders, but to be clear for everyone else, the shareholders are all members of the Morgan family, as it is still a private company.

        • More power too them. Sure, it's a "boutique" market, but if there are customers, good on them. There's a Morgan 3-wheeler where we go for summer holidays, and it's perfect for a small island with narrow roads. Much more appropriate than the Chevy Suburbans that all the families bring down, which are way too big for the island.

    • It appears this will be just another line of cars, not completely ditching the 4-cycle for electric.
      Why not explore that line?
      • It appears this will be just another line of cars, not completely ditching the 4-cycle for electric. Why not explore that line?

        You want them to completely ditch the existing lineup? Why would they do that?

        • You want them to completely ditch the existing lineup? Why would they do that?

          No mention of ditching, just that 'going electric' in this case is like Honda offering the Prius and Nissan the Leaf. They're still offering the 'traditional' lineup.

          • You want them to completely ditch the existing lineup? Why would they do that?

            No mention of ditching, just that 'going electric' in this case is like Honda offering the Prius and Nissan the Leaf. They're still offering the 'traditional' lineup.

            There's only two options here:

            1. You can add electric cars to your existing lineup.

            2. You can do electric-only cars and stop your existing lineup.

            Once again I must ask - why on earth would they stop producing their existing cars just because they are producing electric cars?

            • Once again I must ask - why on earth would they stop producing their existing cars just because they are producing electric cars?

              Once again, I'll point out that you missed his point. Which is that you don't have to stop producing IC cars, so 'why not' explore electric.

            • Once again I must ask - why on earth would they stop producing their existing cars just because they are producing electric cars?

              A reason to stop, not that they're taking it?

              Business concentration. If regulations for IC engines gets too complicated without the usual exemptions for small manufacturers, they could end up saying 'screw it' and going electric where there's fewer rules.

      • Well given their history [www.brit.ca] I doubt they will ever ditch their classic car. The even started bringing in the Morgan 3 wheelers again to the US which actually makes me want to go and get a motorcycle endorsement so I can drive one.
    • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Wednesday February 03, 2016 @03:29AM (#51428207) Homepage Journal

      The visiting expert tried to convince them to automate some of the manufacturing to increase production volume, and to start using cheaper materials to reduce costs.

      That expert really didn't get the business model. If they had taken his 'advice' they would have been sunk.
      Here's the problem. Automated manufacturing is the realm of the major automobile companies. No small manufacturer is going to be able to compete with the likes of Ford, Toyota, VW, and such in the realm of 'cheap' and 'automated'.

      I just so happened to catch a piece on NPR last night about how there's a surge in crafted goods. Up something like 500% over the last decade. As so much of what we purchase and use becomes automated, people become more interested in crafted goods. As the program mentioned, people want stuff with a story behind it.

      So you're a tiny car company. You HAVE to distinguish yourself from the 'big boys'. What are they known for? Cheap, plastic, mass market, soulless, etc... So what do you do? Make your car out of wood. That's unique, no mass market car company does that. Not even Rolls-Royce does that anymore. Not just wood though. Hand worked high quality wood.* The whole car made mostly by hand. Hell, sell the car with a photo-album of the crew putting their new car together. You have a waiting list? So much the better! I can smell the snobbery from here. Wood is even renewable, so points there.

      Probably what happened is they had enough customers express an interest. Remember, Leno has a couple of century-old electric cars. Yes, electric cars can be 'classic'. Plus, given the way the drive-train works for an electric, it's relatively easy to customize the body you put on top.

      *the right types of wood can approach and even exceed the strength of steel for a given amount of mass. It's just a lot bulkier.

      • All that and I forgot the conclusion - They can't compete with the major car makers in cheap or fast. They have to differentiate themselves - quality, hand made, story, etc...

        Cheap out and/or actually satisfy all the demand? That's a step towards losing their uniqueness. That would kill them quicker than anything. Sure, it might be Rolls-Royce and not Lexus, much less VW that kills them, but they'd be dead all the same.

    • by mccalli ( 323026 )
      Although I agree with your post, that wasn't 'a management consultant'. That was Sir John Harvey-Jones [wikipedia.org], former chief executive of the UK's largest manufacturer - Imperial Chemical Industries, better known as ICI.

      I agree with your point and it's a classic example, but he wasn't randomly brought in to businesses. At the time Morgan's future was far from certain, and he was brought in to advise on it. Morgan listened, said thank you and decided to keep going their own way. They did change though - look at t
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      And now they're going electric.

      You say that like it's a bad thing. EVs are really exciting and fun to drive. Massive amounts of torque and acceleration right off the line. You don't get the engine noise, but you do get this roller-coaster feeling as an invisible force pushes you forwards. In fact not being able to hear an engine straining just heightens the excitement as the power seems almost unlimited and impossible to gauge.

      • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

        No, it was more of a comment on how they've changed from being kind of "set in their ways", to "embracing the new".

    • There was a TV show some years ago - a proto-reality show - where a management consultant was brought into a company to upgrade their processes, in a bid to improve profitability.

      Morgan was one of the companies visited by this smarmy git and his TV crew. Now, the Morgan production line is, well, antiquated. The cars (at the time) were largely hand-built, using hand tools, even hand-powered tools. The visiting expert tried to convince them to automate some of the manufacturing to increase production volume, and to start using cheaper materials to reduce costs. They flat-out said "no", and you could see the expert fail to understand their reasoning. Their orderbook was full for a number of years, they were happy with what they were doing, and the way they were doing it. The expert just couldn't comprehend why they didn't want to change.

      And now they're going electric. Who owns Morgan now?

      This makes no sense. Why would you pay a lot of money for management consultants to improve profitability then ignore their advice?

      If it was free advice because it was a TV show, then it was still a waste of everyone's time.

      With a full orderbook they obviously didn't need the publicity, so it's not that.

      • This makes no sense. Why would you pay a lot of money for management consultants to improve profitability then ignore their advice?

        There's a difference between ignoring and 'considers, then rejects', and it sounds like the latter.

        Basically, I've seen consultants suggest changes that would ruin a company in the long run all the time. That's what it sounds like here. The consultant was the former CEO of a very large chemical company. He was giving mass market advice to a custom build company. That would kill them, because they'd lose their uniqueness.

        That, and the TV show probably played up the 'useless' parts and played down the par

      • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

        I don't pay money to experts and automatically follow their advice. I pay them to provide me with information that I need to make my decision.

        As I stated, it was a kind of proto-reality show, so yes it was a bit of a waste of time. Worth it for the look inside the Morgan factory, though.

        They were being advised to do things that would have detracted from the allure of their product, probably leading to a reduction in orders, and an eventual loss of profitability. Perhaps the company management at the time he

  • It didn't work for Dylan, and it won't work now.

  • They already sold out when they switched to metal crankshafts.

  • Morgan is not post war. It is prewar as is the design of their cars. And we are not even talking about WW2. Morgan was around prior to Henry Ford's cars so we are talking about pre WW1, visual design.

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