If you’ve ever driven anything built by Ariel you’ll know that they are responsive. Even in their lowest state of tune using an out-the-box four-cylinder Honda engine, an Ariel Atom or Nomad will make a mad bid for the horizon if you even so much as look at the throttle. Many years ago, an Atom rearranged Jeremy Clarkson’s face on TV.
And this is because they weigh about as much as a postage stamp.
We know that electric powertrains have an uncanny ability to make two-tonne saloons shrug off that weight and react with immediacy to any poke of the throttle, so imagine how bonkers an Ariel Nomad would be with 268bhp of electric power…
Thanks to BorgWarner (best known as purveyors of gearboxes) an electric Nomad is now a reality as the Michigan-based company decided that the best vehicle to showcase its advanced electronic propulsion systems was a car built by some West Country folk.
However mad as this might seem on the surface, there is method to the choice; quite simply there isn’t another car around that enables companies to bolt their components onto it and all of them still be visible without taking body panels off. Because the exoskeletal Ariel Nomad doesn’t have body panels. The Nomad is also extremely capable and well-engineered off the shelf, which helps.
The testbed vehicle is being used to showcase a variety of technologies including traction inverters, a torque-vectoring rear drive unit, an electric coolant pump, vehicle and traction control software, a DC/AC converter and a high-voltage battery pack. Effectively, the Ariel Nomad has had a top-to-bottom, highly-advanced powertrain transplant.
That 268bhp motor draws power from a modest 30kWh battery which runs at 350V and is managed thermally by the aforementioned electric coolant pump. Power is sent to the rear wheels through that torque vectoring rear drive unit which uses two separate motors and drive gears to control each wheel individually. Battery management is being tested in partnership with Romeo Power, who is not a US soap star but rather a battery pack and module suppler which is developing technologies to elongate the life of lithium-ion vehicle batteries.
Obviously what we’d really like to know is how fast the electric Ariel Nomad is – and also can we have one. The petrol-powered version makes do with around 35bhp less and still manages 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, so we suspect that BorgWarner’s test car performs very similarly, if not a bit quicker.
Unfortunately there are no plans to sell the car commercially – for now it is just a fun way to test components – but judging by the video which you can watch below, it looks like an absolute riot!