Meet the Swiss Electric Supercar: The 420-kW Protoscar Lampo3

By · May 12, 2011

We've seen two Lampo prototypes from Protoscar already, and now comes the small Swiss company's latest effort, the Lampo3.

It's faster, more efficient, and better looking. It's also a clean-sheet design. Lampo and Lampo2 were Saturn Sky roadsters converted to an electric powertrain, but everything is original and unique on the Lampo3. The chassis first of all. That's always a problem with EVs—you need to find the space for a large battery pack. The Nissan LEAF has its batteries located in the floor, but that raises the body, and it wouldn't look good on a sports car. Protoscar chose to place the batteries right in the middle of the car, in a purpose-built chassis. The batteries are below a center console that runs the whole length of the interior, with bucket seats on each side, a bit like the Chevy Volt. The Volt's battery extends behind the back seats to make a "T," but not the Lampo3. It's battery is perfectly straight, long, wide and tall enough not to need to go any further.

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

This battery is made of 216 Kokam SLPB cells—they're lithium-polymers—with the pack rated at 32 kWh. The set-up then gets really unique, as there isn't one single motor, nor two, but three of them. I know a car with three motors doesn't sound right, but actually it's very clever.

Past prototypes from Protoscar had two motors, one per axle, to optimize the regeneration during braking, and make it indefinitely adjustable—more or less regen and/or braking power applied to the front or rear wheels. The Lampo3 goes further by adding torque vectoring to the rear wheels. So there's one single electric motor sending its power to the front wheels, and one motor for each rear wheel, with the ability to turn at a different speed. In other words, there's torque vectoring between the two rear wheels, but also between the front and rear wheels. Are you impressed? I know I am.

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

The numbers are impressive too, with total power available being at supercar-level: 420-kW (563-hp) with 664-lbs/ft of torque. Of course, performance is nothing but awesome, with a modest 136-mph top speed, but the 0-to 62-mph exercise takes only 4.5 seconds. Both motors and batteries are water-cooled, and the motors are Swiss-made, sourced at Brusa, another small company, yet making run to become a world-leader in electric motoring. It also built the inverters, the DC/DC converter for the on-board devices, the battery pack from individual cells and the charger. That one is so smart, it accepts anything from a basic 10A monophase current up to a three-phase 32A. Maximum power accepted is 22 kW, and the Lampo3 has an interface to accept the Chademo standard for DC fast charge.

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

With a modest battery size, range is an equally modest 125 miles, but the Lampo3 counts on its road dynamics and its efficiency to set it apart from the competition. The test driver will be Gabriele Gardel—one very fast Swiss guy— he was GT1-class winner in Le Mans last year, while Michelin's Challenge Bibendum, next week in Berlin, will show how efficient the Lampo3 is. I'll be there to report, but I shall remind you of the 2003 edition which was won by AC Propulsion's TZero. That car then got famous, a guy from the Silicon Valley named Elon Musk heard about it, and somehow a new car company got started.

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

The Protoscar Lampo3 Swiss electric supercar

Marco Piffaretti, founder and manager of Protoscar, will not follow this example. It's a bit of a disappointment, because after the two prototypes, many had hoped the third would be a production model, but it won't be. Yet, in the same way, AC Propulsion made a few TZero, Protoscar may build a few Lampo3 models to those who ask. The car is four-seater, 184.5 inches long and 78.5 inches wide, quite good-looking in my eyes, and most important, it's making EV tech better. Protoscar has been working for large manufacturers like Daimler (Mercedes) for several years now. I hope his talent will show up on a mass-market cars sometime soon.

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