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SEMA 2020: Superformance MKIII E Update

Update on Superformance's Tesla-powered MKIII E electric Cobra

By Dean Larson

Photos courtesy of Superformance

Like you, we had plenty of questions when Superformance announced that they were developing an electric version of their MKIII Roadster. So to help get us up to speed, the company was kind enough to invite us to a boardroom discussion on the MKIII E last week at SEMA 360 — the online supplement to this year’s canceled SEMA Show.

Initial details were slim on the build, but Superformance promised that the MKIII E would provide modern electric propulsion without sacrificing performance. And to achieve modern performance, we’ve learned that the project will be based around a Tesla Model S electric motor mounted in the rear, with a cutting-edge battery pack under the hood occupying the same footprint of a V8 engine.

The project is still in the development and testing phase, so details are not yet set in stone, but the crew developing the car revealed that the MKIII E will come in somewhere between 300 and 400 pounds lighter than your average small-block powered MKIII — so around 2,200 pounds. 0 to 60 mph time is expected to be in the 2-second range or better, and 11 seconds or quicker in the quarter mile.

Another trick piece of technology in the MKIII E is the battery pack, which consists of 12, 16-cell LG Chem batteries, considered to be one of the leading EV batteries on the market. The batteries are mounted under the hood where the gasoline engine would normally reside, and the crew developing the car has, quite cleverly, arranged them within the same footprint as a V8 engine. With this forward-looking approach, Superformance has indicated to us that the battery pack can be adapted to any of their other models, including their Slabside, FIA, 427 Cobra and maybe even the Grand Sport.

Because the battery pack should come in at a comparable weight to a gas engine, the balance of the MKIII chassis will not be disturbed. In fact, we’re told it’s even better because weight is lowered and moved towards the center, with slightly more over the rear wheels as well. So far, the crew relays that throttle response is instantaneous, resulting in a pleasant squat and take off. Because of the instant torque transmission, the crew states that there’s an excess of power, and the real challenges is tuning the package to put it to the most effective use. In the production iteration, drivers will be able to adjust power output to their desired level for the type of driving they're doing on any given day.

We’re always interested in range numbers with new EV projects, and while the details are still being ironed out, the Superformance crew is expecting to see roughly 80 to 90 miles of spirited driving, with over 100 miles possible normal cruising. In its current configuration, the car can be completely recharged from empty within 6 hours using 220V power, but more advanced charging systems could cut that number in half.

In terms of production, Superformance expects customer cars to be ready for delivery by Summer 2021, and the cost should be comparable to the standard MKIII model. The simplicity of emissions compliance (when compared to a gas-powered replica) is nearly a shoo-in for the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act as well, meaning EVs could represent a large share of sales in anticipation for this legislation. But that’s not the end of the story, and Superformance told us to keep an eye out for an upcoming GT40 EV as well, boasting next-level EV performance with huge power numbers, and even, all-wheel drive. Stay Tuned.

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