Henrik Fisker is one of the few people I admire. What he did is really extraordinary: he started a new automotive company. Starting from scratch, and making a brand new car. It’s way better than what Tesla has ever achieved, picking an existing British sports car (the Lotus Elise), and converting it to electricity with technology licensed from AC Propulsion. The Karma sports sedan is a superb automobile by any standards, it’s also a better plug-in hybrid than a Chevrolet Volt, with more range on battery power. Having achieved this, I consider Henrik Fisker, formerly a car designer, to be a hero.
That’s why I wonder what were his exacts words when he talked to Autocar, which lead to this article. It’s about giving an electric car “Veyron levels of performance” with the help of a gearbox. It’s very true that most EVs have a serious shortcoming: they only have a one-speed transmission. Having several gears would vastly help accelerations.
I’ve been writing about it many times already. I drove an electric Fiat 500 with a five-speed manual a few years ago and I liked it. Antonov sells multi-speed transmission for electric cars today, I hope that company will make a deal with a car manufacturer soon.
Back to Fisker, I would like to point out that having a choice of gears would only help accelerations, top speed wouldn’t change. This because speed comes from power. You increase power and that will increase speed. But there’s no way to increase speed without increasing power. The Bugatti Veyron is renowned for its huge top speed, thanks to its 1000-hp engine. An electric Veyron could be as fast, but its electric motor would have to make exactly the same power as the Veyron’s gas engine.
So I guess it was the Veyron’s explosive acceleration that Henrik Fisker had in mind when he bragged about the advantages a gearbox would bring. Let me add that a gearbox would also make EVs more efficient, by keeping the motor at its most efficient speed.
I’ve never heard anyone complaining about a lack of gears in an EV. It’s quite the opposite, people enjoy having only one gear, so there’s never any gear change, you drive smoothly.