A BOUTIQUE car maker nestled in the pretty western Czech Republic countryside has become the first manufacturer to offer a ‘production’ electric vehicle powered exclusively by in-wheel motors.
The Luka is the product of a research project by MW Motors that initially set out to explore potential automotive technology, but was so successful that its prototype vehicle skipped the usual intermediate concept stage and cut straight to the production version.
Unlike all production EVs before it, the Luka dispenses with a central drive motor and transmission or individual motors for each axle, in favour of a hub motor at each corner. The hub motors are a more compact and lightweight solution, with the added bonus of offering fully independent all-wheel drive.
The result is a unique two-door that might only possess a meagre 50kW but weighs in at a gossamer 815kg, potentially making it the lightest electric production car. That’s enough to accelerate to 100km/h from zero in 9.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 145km/h.
With so little heft to haul about, the Luka makes do with a relatively small 21.9kWh battery but still manages a range of up to 300km.
As well as the unorthodox motors, more weight was saved with an all-aluminium chassis rolling under a composite body.
But while the Luka is technologically unlike anything else on the road, its styling couldn’t be more different, borrowing design features from countless classic vehicles.
Its nose is undoubtedly inspired by the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia [or is that a BMW 507? - Ed], a little bit of the original Mercedes SL can be found in the front arches, the rear overhang and roofline resembles that of the Aston Martin DB4 and if you squint the bonnet badge hints at Volkswagen’s.
Inside, the Luka is less retro and more vanilla with simple armchair seats and straightforward design, albeit punctuated with more technology in the form of large central screen, fully digital instruments and a decent amount of carbonfibre.
All-wheel drive with torque vectoring are standard, but with a lack of commonplace safety kit such as airbags, the Luka is unlikely to ever find its way to Australia. It has been approved for use on European roads, though.
As a final deal sweetener, the MW Motors foray into production vehicles also bucks another typical low-volume car maker trait and is on offer for the very reasonable sum of €30,000 or the equivalent of $A47,880.
MW is yet to confirm just how many Lukas it is capable of building, but we’re guessing it won’t be many. That might challenge the company’s use of the term “production car”, but let’s not be mean to the ambitious newcomer.