Turbine cars have long been a pipe dream since the dawn of the jet age that first spurred imaginations all over the world some sixty years ago. But practically speaking, turbine cars have never really taken off. They were either incredibly dangerous or prohibitively expensive (or both, like the Chrysler Patriot). They have also been beset by noise issues in the past.
But British luxury car maker Jaguar is giving it another go—and the British government is bankrolling the project. Rather than using a turbine to turn a driveshaft (which required a huge flywheel), Jag plans to use the turbine engine to power electric motors. Brilliant!
Jaguar has teamed up with Bladon Jets to produce a small, super-efficient turbine engine that will fit into a car body while maintaining the car’s profile. The British government has awarded the project $24 million after the Technology Strategy Board was convinced by a presentation that the project was feasible. SR Drives will also be working on the project to produce what it calls an Ultra Lightweight Range Extender.
There is a long history of British turbine cars, starting with Rover back in the 1950’s. In 1951 the Rover Jet-1 roadster went 152 mph during one test, and they even entered a turbine car into the 1963 24 Hours of LeMans. Alas, jet cars never made it to production (though one fellow installed a jet engine into his Beetle). Will a gas-turbine-electric-hybrid work? We’ll have to wait and see, though the concept shows some promise.
Still waiting for my flying car though.
Source: Wired | Image: Rover Jet-1