Video: Testing Driving The Wrightspeed Turbine Truck


Enjoy this “cabcam” video of me taking the Wrightspeed-powered Isuzu panel turbine truck for a spin around the Long Beach Grand Prix racetrack. OK, so right now it’s supposedly just a bunch of streets, but you can still see the tire marks and all the lines painted marking the starting boxes and such.

Wrightspeed’s Isuzu is QUICK. Much quicker than the gasoline-powered Penske of the same size I drove across country. 45 MPH felt plenty fast, which is odd for someone who feels like they’re standing still on a motorcycle traveling at speeds below 80MPH. The turbine generator sounds really cool, too. You might want to keep it running just to impress the neighbors, but you won’t need to. The truck averages 40 miles on a charge, so for local deliveries it’s fine. If you’re close to home and want to disable the turbine, just push the button and it powers down. Read more about the Route and see video of the 2-speed transmission in action here.

Wrightspeed turbine

Engineer and founder Ian Wright chose the turbine because it’s more durable and lighter than your typical ICE. What’s especially cool about this generator engine is you can choose from a plethora of fuels. The turbine can be run on: Diesel, Biodiesel, Jet A, Natural Gas, Propane, or Sour Gas. That last one is new to me, even after a day of hearing about all kinds of biogas substitutes for fossil-based natural gas. Obviously you’d have to choose liquid or gaseous fuel before taking delivery of your truck.

Wrightspeed dash
The simplicity of this dash is a breath of fresh air in a market full of smoggy, busy dashboards.

Wrightspeed builds powertrains, though, not trucks. They currently sell them to fleets in need of replacement powertrains, but are interested in selling to OEM’s as well…and not just for commercial use. Check out this video of founder and retired racer Ian Wright tearing it up on the salt flats for an idea of what we’re getting at. The fun thing about having software to control wheel speed independently is you can do donuts much more safely. More about the fuel savings here– it saves 20x more fuel than a 100MPG car! Here you can enjoy the sound of that turbine generator…

About the Author

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.
  • smw397

    Susanna, a lot of us who’ve been waiting with bated breath for some big announcements out of Wrightspeed were excited to see your video. I have a couple of questions for you:

    1) Were you able to get any information at all about current or pending customers? They have made bare-bones announcements about deals with FedEx and the Ratto Group (waste haulers in the northern Bay Area) but have provided few details to date. We are very eager to learn how many units these deals encompass, as well as delivery times, etc.

    2) I think I read somewhere that the noise levels put out by Capstone microturbine in the Wrightspeed Route was only supposed something like 45 dB, which should be barely noticeable, yet it was hard to miss in your video. Can you describe what it sounded/felt like in real time and space? Was the camera just particularly sensitive to that frequency or was it really that loud the whole time the engine was running?