Norton working on new electric: Joint project underway with Cosworth

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Norton have issued a statement of intent toward their future electric motorcycle models by revealing an initial battery concept developed in partnership with Cosworth. The 40-cell immersion cooled design was brought to public attention at this month’s Cenex-LCV show at Millbrook Proving Ground and marks the latest step in a 30-month project known as ZEN (Zero Emission Norton).

“We’re not looking to make an electric motorcycle, we’re looking to make a completely new experience with electric transportation,” Norton’s Chief Commercial Officer Christian Gladwell told MCN last year, when asked about the cancellation of the Atlas parallel twin range.

“It was tough but if we wanted to invest in that little 650 twin, that would mean diverting resource, money, time, and people onto that, whereas the writing’s on the wall [for combustion].”

Norton battery concept internal detail

Almost a year later, and the first battery concept has arrived – marking the first step in a Government-backed project in collaboration with Cosworth, HiSpeed, Formaplex, M&I Materials, Indra Renewables, and WMG (University of Warwick) – that also aims to create a UK-based supply chain for electric bikes as well as boosting jobs in the sector.

Although unfinished, the unit showcases the next steps for the ZEN programme, including developing a sheet moulded composite battery holder with Formaplex, as well as immersion technology with MIVOLT to keep the battery cool.

Norton goes electric: Two-and-a-half year project to create new model announced

First published 17 June 2022 by Ben Clarke

Norton HQ Solihull

Norton have unveiled new plans to design and build electric motorbikes right here in the UK, co-funded by a Government scheme. The TVS-owned business are aiming high, saying they want to “create an electric motorcycle that blends Norton’s design DNA with racing performance, touring range and lightweight handling”.

It sounds like a tall order, but Norton won’t be working alone. Delta Cosworth – the electric powertrain division of the famous Midlands engine builder – are onboard for a start, and will tackle the battery pack: a crucial part of any electric bike as the power source but also accounting for a significant amount of the overall weight.

WMG, University of Warwick, who have already partnered with Norton on a TT Zero race bike are, signed up too, and will take on battery technology, modelling and toolchain development.

WMG Norton Frontier electric race bike

“This significant funding investment is a momentous milestone for the brand as it marks the beginning of our electrification journey and fulfilling our ten-year product plan,” said Norton CEO Dr Robert Hentschel. “Norton is an exemplar of modern luxury and unafraid to challenge the status quo, innovating for the future of mobility while staying true to our British heritage. It also brings into focus our desire to support the UK in its mission for a net-zero automotive future.

“Working alongside our world class partners, we’re confident that project Zero Emission Norton will eliminate the current dispute between a conventional and electric motorcycle to create EV products that riders desire.”

The 30-month project will create R&D and manufacturing jobs in the Midlands, which is great news, but Norton say they also want to help the UK return to being a global technology leader for motorcycles. Batteries, motors, chassis, cooling oils and vehicle-to-home chargers are all being developed with the aim of putting the UK on the map in the supply of EV components.

Dr Robert Hentschel

Ian Constance, Chief Executive of the APC, added: “The projects receiving today’s investment highlight the breadth of technologies needed to help the UK accelerate to net zero emissions. They’re reimagining not just vehicles, but transport in general.

“Norton is an iconic British brand with a proud history. From making motorcycles, to supporting the second world war effort, to developing the world’s first production superbike, they are now looking to the future with an electric bike that will deliver both performance and range. This will radiate from a UK manufacturing base and strengthen highly skilled jobs and green growth.”

The project team comprises six partners in total who will consider different parts of the design. As well as Delta Cosworth and WMG, the team includes HiSpeed Ltd who are motor and inverter specialists responsible for getting energy from the battery to the bike’s rear wheel.

Norton stand at Motorcycle Live

Formaplex Technologies are a Portsmouth-based composite and carbon-fibre manufacturing firm, while M&I Materials will look at dielectric cooling – a method of cooling electrical components by immersing them in oil – with its MIVOLT fluids.

Indra Renewable Technologies are specialists in vehicle to home charging technology, where power can flow back from an EV to your home – more commonly seen in car applications so far – and WMG, University of Warwick,

There’s no word yet on what the finished bike might look like or how much it might cost but MCN will bring you all the latest news as soon as we have it.