The Lightning Story: Chapter 2 – Getting up to speed & the first trip to Bonneville

After building the Lightning Lithium E1 in 2007, the team decided to branch out into a couple of related areas in 2008.  The first was a lithium powered ATV (see photo below).  The second project was one of the first Plug-in Prius cars with a 10kw/h lithium battery pack.  After building the technology for these cars, the Lightning Engineering Team attended a presentation by the head of the GM Volt development team at the local EV community meeting at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where the performance of the Volt was targeted to match the 10kw/h Plug-in Prius capability.  This was a huge credit to the Lightning team and the work that they had done to bring the Plug-in to market.

Electric ATV

In 2009, it was back to bike building.  The team designed a new bike (called the Moto-1), from the ground up based on what we learned from the E1.  This new bike would include A123 batteries.  A123 was also a sponsor for us in 2009.  The motor for the bike was sourced from a GM EV1 series 1 vehicle.  This was provided by the CTO of Tesla who had been researching various EV technologies.   The motor was rated at 103KW, but we pushed it to run at over 400amps and 400 volts.

The goal was to compete in the first TTZero race at the Isle of Man, but we missed the window to get the bike shipped to Europe (that would come in 2010…), so instead we made our first trip to Bonneville Speed Week and ran a 166mph pass with the bike… the fastest speed by any pre-production electric bike!

Aaron Frank of Motorcyclist Magazine:

“When I wrote in our recent “Going Green” issue that I found the present performance of electric motorcycles somewhat underwhelming, Lightning Motors President Richard Hatfield took offense. ‘Come to Bonneville and ride our Moto-1 prototype,” he said. ‘We’ll show you that an electric motorcycle can be just as fast and exciting as any internal-combustion machine.’ All it took was one silent, 160-mph blast across the salt to show me the light[ning]  Hatfield also thinks his Moto-1 can break 200 mph at Bonneville next year. If that happens, it might be the petrol-powered bike-makers who reach out to impress us next!”

This statement by Aaron would prove to be prophetic, as we will discuss in our next post about racing in the 2010 season.

Read more on MotorcyclistOnline.

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