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Weight and Wait are the Enemies: Nyobolt’s Elise Electromod Goes Testing

Updated: Jul 4

Nyobolt EV Elise

Significant recharging times and the weight penalty from batteries are two hurdles EV sports cars must overcome to become a viable alternative to their ICE counterparts. Ken Pearson examines Nyobolt’s answer to the problem.

It's stating the obvious by saying EVs are heavier than their piston-powered counterparts, or that current charging times are a source of frustration. The lightest Porsche Taycan weighs 2,090 kg, sending the readout on the scales 205 kg higher than the lightest Panamera would. The Taycan can recharge from 10-80% in just 18 minutes when connected to a powerful enough DC charger, making it one of the quickest charging cars on the market today, but it still takes less time to refill the fuel tank in a petrol or diesel car. Time and weight are the two things that are holding performance EVs back, but Cambridge-based Nyobolt is working on changing that.

Arriving on the scene in dramatic fashion at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, complete with a car based on a Lotus Exige S chassis, but styled to look like the Elise S1 - the oldest and prettiest Elise in my eyes. The S1 influence is no coincidence, as the Nyobolt has been styled and engineered in collaboration with CALLUM, legendary designer Ian Callum’s eponymous design firm.

The Nyobolt EV project saw Julian Thomson coming on board to reimagine the Elise, a car he originally penned in the 1990s. Horizontal light strips can be found at the front and rear, with the classic side intakes and integrated rear spoiler remaining on the reimagined roadster. It is lower and wider than before with inflated and exaggerated features that are just on the right side of being overdone without looking excessive. In short: it looks great.

Nyobolt EV Elise
Nyobolt EV Elise

You may rightly be thinking that this isn’t the first time that a Lotus chassis has featured an electric drivetrain, but you’d be wrong to think that the Tesla Roadster was the pioneer. Only a year after the original Elise launched, British engineering firm Zytek developed a twin-motor battery powered variant that could drive up to 120 miles and recharge in an hour. That was in 1997, today the Nyobolt EV can travel up to 155 miles and recharge in under 5 minutes. Yes, that’s all!

It’s partly due to the fact that the battery is relatively small at 35 kWh in capacity - similar to what is found within the chassis of the F56 Mini Electric, although that takes 36 minutes to complete the same 10-80% top up. The 31 minute saving comes because of the carbon and metal oxide anodes found in the cells, along with software and battery management software that can cope with accepting and maintaining charge at high inputs.

Average inputs are actually as important as peak inputs when it comes to quickly charging an EV; take the Mercedes-Benz EQA 300 and smart #1 Pro+ as examples. Both have similarly sized batteries at 66.5 and 62 kWh usable respectively, but the smart has a significantly higher maximum input of 150 kW on a DC charger, compared to just 100 for the Mercedes-Benz. Does that mean that the smart charges 50% quicker than the EQA? No. They both take 30 minutes to go from 10-80% because the EQA maintains its peak input for longer, whereas the smart starts off charging very quickly before slowing down the rate at which it accepts electricity.

Nyobolt EV Elise
Nyobolt EV Elise
Nyobolt EV Elise

While Nyobolt have not released any specific peak or average charging inputs, they do say that the 35 kWh battery in their EV prototype will complete the benchmark 10-80% top up in 4 minutes and 37 seconds when connected to a 350 kW charger, like you’d find at Cambridge Services which is conveniently close to Pearson Towers and Nyobolt’s base. 

The small battery is also relatively light, allowing for a lighter car which means greater efficiency when driving; the EV concept tips the scales at 1,250 kg which is, of course, heavier than the Exige that it’s based on but it is a featherweight in the context of modern electric cars. The car’s creators know that reducing weight is the key to making electric sports cars for enthusiasts, with Shane Davies - Nyobolt’s director of vehicle battery systems - saying “We can enable OEMs to build excitement back into the segment, which is literally weighed down by legacy battery technology currently.”

While power and torque outputs are also among the unknown stats, the drastically reduced charging times do begin to offset the car’s relatively short driving range of up to 155 miles. If one were to drive it like a sports car should be driven, that number would fall but the prototype would be back on the road before any other electric car that plugged in at the same time. 

Nyobolt EV Elise
Nyobolt EV Elise

Although Nyobolt are not aiming to become a car manufacturer and are focussing on supplying their battery technology to other OEMs, there is a chance for the Lotus-based concept to enter low-volume production and beat the upcoming Caterham Project V to the road. 

The Caterham follows a similar ethos of using a small battery to reduce weight, tipping the scales at 1,190 kg and offering a range up to 249 miles in a similarly gorgeous two-door shell. If a practical and real-world usable version of the Nyobolt EV concept were to head to market - and I think it should based on its looks alone - then the car would need to offer a larger battery, as I think drivers simply no longer accept electric cars with ranges that begin with the number 1.

Whether a battery double the size would take five, seven or ten minutes to rapid-charge remains to be seen, but the tech and the styling seem to be full of promise and potential. The car has switched its silver launch paint job for a more understated matte black finish which it will wear while testing at UK proving grounds, and I suppose I could put my general dislike of matte finishes aside if some local knowledge was needed for a Cambridgeshire B-road-based road testing campaign…

Being RUSH’s resident EV-sympathiser, the project has really caught my eye because it is based around something that just doesn’t exist in the market yet - a light(ish) two-seat sports car that just so happens to be silent rather than leaving the sounds of a Rover K-Series engine in its wake. I’ve had a lot of fun driving electric cars - especially the smaller and lighter ones - but none of them were designed to be a sports car from day one, and all of them required at least half an hour on a fast charger. The Nyobolt EV Prototype is the opposite.

Nyobolt EV Elise
Nyobolt EV Elise
Nyobolt EV Elise


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