Morgan Motor Company has debuted an electric sportscar concept – with a five-speed manual gearbox – in Geneva. The Plus E, as it’s called, has been designed together with British tech specialists Zytek and Radshape, and it’ll be used to gauge market reaction to see if there’s sufficient demand to put the electric roadster into production.

The EV is based on a tailored version of Morgan’s lightweight aluminium platform chassis and clothed in the revised ‘traditional’ body from the new BMW V8-powered Plus 8, which is also a Geneva debutant.

Power comes courtesy of a new derivative of Zytek’s 94 hp and 300Nm electric engine, already proven with US vehicle manufacturers. Mounted in the transmission tunnel, the Zytek unit drives the rear wheels through a conventional five-speed manual gearbox.

Here, the clutch is retained, but because the motor provides torque from zero speed, the driver can choose to leave it engaged when coming to rest and pulling away, driving the car like a conventional automatic.

The boffins at Zytek say that a multi-speed transmission allows the motor to spend more time operating in its sweet spot, where it uses energy more efficiently, particularly at high road speeds. It also allows the use of lower gearing for rapid acceleration, making the car more engaging for keen drivers.

The programme will deliver two engineering concept vehicles. The first, with the five-speed manual box and Li-ion batteries, will be used for preliminary engineering assessment, while the second will be closer to potential production specification, utilising alternative battery technologies and possibly a sequential gearbox.