Lotus-Proton-Iriz-RHEV-engine

Click to enlarge table.

According to an engine production statistics table published by MarkLines, an auto industry information portal based in Japan, Lotus appears to be developing a new 1.2 litre SOHC three-cylinder petrol engine. More interestingly, 514 of these engines are said to have been made in 2015, fitted to the Proton Iriz – for internal testing purposes, we assume.

The table above, which was pointed out to us by reader, Aero, specifically shows that a 1.2 litre “RHEV” type engine – likely based on Proton’s new line of engines announced recently – has been developed at the car maker’s production facility in Hethel. We can’t say for sure what the term RHEV here refers to, but it does sound like a reference to a range extender (REx) system.

Range extenders generally serve purely as an on-board generator, so to speak. They are commonly used by all-electric vehicles to supplementarily charge their traction batteries. Like in the BMW i3, the optional REx system does not drive the wheels directly.

If anything, this reminds us of the Proton Emas concept which was previewed at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. Also equipped with a 1.2 litre three-cylinder petrol Lotus Range Extender, the original Proton Emas powertrain utilised a single electric motor, delivering 75 kW (100 hp) peak and 45 kW (60 hp) continuous power outputs.

Proton Iriz (left) and the Proton Emas Concept.

It is equipped with a 11.5 kWh lithium-polymer traction battery which has a discharge capability of over 100 kW. Lotus says that the battery can be recharged via your domestic 220 to 240-volt AC power outlets. Recharging times have not been revealed.

The Emas Concept’s range extender, the 1.2 litre three-cylinder engine, is said to be optimised between two power generation points, giving 15 kW of electrical power at 1,500 rpm and 35 kW at 3,500 rpm. This energy it sent to the traction battery via an integrated electrical generator.

Proton is not short of experience with range extender engines. In 2010, we were given a brief drive of the Proton Exora REEV concept. The electric MPV was equipped with a 400 cc, 50 hp rotary engine range extender.

It’s no secret that Proton is developing several models based on its Iriz hatchback – one of which has been rumoured to be its first all-electric production vehicle. Is a Proton Iriz Hybrid, potentially an EV with a petrol range extender also in the local carmaker’s plans? Time will tell.