The world threatens to move towards the electric vehicle with every motorshow that passes by with the various concept cars that are being released. With range extender electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt and the Proton EMAS proving to be a plausible solution for reduced emission and fossil fuel reliance motoring in the mid-term future, transmission manufacturers are getting worried – with electric motors taking over the duty of driving the wheels and the combustion engine re-designated for generator duty, there will be no need for transmissions!
So it’s understandable that transmission manufacturers will try to diversify, and here’s one attempt, a Boosted Range Extender that was presented by Getrag at the METAV 2010 manufacturing and automation showcase late last month. Getrag’s “Boosted Range Extender” is basically a two-cylinder internal combustion engine combined with an electric motor, an alternator and a Powershift 2-speed transmission. Getrag’s configuration calls of the components to be mechanically integrated together in one package, thus losing the packaging flexibility of range extender solutions that separate the electric motor from the combustion engine such as in the Proton EMAS.
Basically when you take off from a stand still, only the electric motor runs in first gear. The combustion engine can also be coupled to provide power whenever needed in parallel hybrid operation. But the combustion engine will also run in series hybrid mode, charging the vehicle’s batteries for the electric motor usage using the alternator I mentioned earlier. This is in fact a series-parallel hybrid like the Toyota Prius but seems to use a Getrag 2-speed gearbox and only 1 electric motor instead of 2 electric motors like in the Prius.
On Getrag’s website, there is a teaser of what car the new range extender engine might just be slotted into as a demo unit – a compact Ford Fiesta hatchback.
The same Fiesta image can be found in a PDF presentation where Getrag unveils certain vehicle performance findings after installing such a system into a prototype “B-segment vehicle”. Top speed has been given as 140km/h with 160km/h possible for a few minutes. 0 to 100km/h acceleration took 11 seconds.
This was based on a 30/50kW electric motor, a 10kW generator, a 5kWh usable capacity battery and a 30kW internal combustion engine. The range achieved was 600km total when the combustion engine helped, but electric drive range on the NEDC cycle was 50km, while electric drive range at 50km/h constant was 70km.