There is a line being drawn in the sand between two-different types of hybrid cars. There are those that follow the model of the Toyota Prius and Ford Escape hybrid, which alternately use electric and gas power. Then there are those like the Volt which uses electric motors to drive the wheels while getting electricity from a small gas motor.
Lotus has developed a “range-extender engine” that falls into the latter catagory. It implements numerous money and weight saving features that could make extended-range hybrids even more appealing in the future.
The 124 pound “monoblock” engine is designed to power the electric motors which would in turn provide propulsion to your automobile of choice. The “monoblock” design in a sense harkens back to the days of the Ford “Flathead” V8. That is to say that the block, cylinder heads, and exhaust manifold have all been built into a single, lightweight casting. This simplified design not only sheds weight, but 17 now-unecessary parts as well.
The engine has also been optimized to provide just enough power when needed. 20 horsepower at 1,500 RPM (cruising speed) or 47 horsepower at 3500 RPM (acceleration). Two valves per cylinder, port fuel injection and other advancements make this a cheap, effective alterantive for any company considering building a hybrid-electric car.
This engine still doesn’t solve the problem of costly battery packs. But it seems to be a wise decision in terms of supporting electric power generation. With a C02 output of just 120 grams per kilometer, it is a low-pollution alternative using available technology. The internal combustion engine isn’t a bad idea or inherently evil; it just needs to be enhanced or re-envisioned. This is a step in the right direction.
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Source and Image Credit: Lotus