'HIPERCAR' - Electric speedster 'will be quite a game changer'

    Story highlights

    • British company Ariel is creating a "game-changing" EV
    • It will be able to accelerate to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds
    • Its first "HIPERCAR" is set to be launch in 2019

    (CNN)Its cars can accelerate faster than a Bugatti Veyron, cost a fraction of the price and routinely attract five-star reviews -- Jeremy Clarkson swooned about the "Atom" car back in his "Top Gear" days, and Jay Leno has one sitting in his famously well-stocked garage.

    After building a stellar reputation for outrageously fast and fun-to-drive petrol cars, British automaker Ariel is now poised to sprinkle its stardust over the electric car scene, too.
      The "HIPERCAR" project will deliver an "ultra-high performance, range extended" hybrid EV car, according to the company, which is developing two and four-wheel drive models.
      Inboard motors in each wheel will power the four-wheel drive version generating a total of 880 kilowatts (equivalent to nearly 1,200 bhp), producing acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and a top speed of 160 mph.
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      "We're not going for daft top speeds because in reality no one can ever achieve them apart from a test driver on a test track," Simon Saunders, Ariel Motors' director told CNN.
      "We're going for ultimate acceleration, if you like, which is what we are kind of known for."
      For Saunders and his small team of technicians based in Crewkerne, a small town in southwest England, innovation has always been central to their mission.
      The company began life in the 19th century making bicycles and motorcycles before switching attention to their Atom car series in 2000. It's raw, stripped back look -- no roofs, no doors -- cut down on weight, maximized performance and generated rave reviews throughout the motoring press.
      Ariel's most recent offering, the "Nomad" a rugged, sporty off-roader, was released in 2014 -- the same year Saunders started thinking seriously about turning the company's expertise to EVs.
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      "The reason why we've taken such an interest in (electric vehicles) is that the technology is now at a point where an EV can beat a internal combustion engine car," Saunders said.
      "For Ariel, and our customers, that becomes very interesting. For us it's all about performance but it obviously about efficiency and emissions as well."
      The HIPERCAR will also feature a lightweight gas turbine that will extend the car's range to an estimated 500 miles, a huge step up from the current crop of EVs -- Tesla's Model S tops out at around 315 miles.
      It's still early days. A research and development phase was completed last September and the first model won't be available until 2019, but Saunders is confident that the technology they're developing will eventually find its way into the mainstream electric car market.
      "It's a springboard for the technology to be taken up by bigger manufacturers and make its way into high-volume production," he said.
      "While it's a vehicle, a production car, for us, it's also a vehicle in the different sense of the word to take the technology forward.
      "It will be quite a game changer."