Motorbike engines for cars?

Your luxury sports car could one day be partly powered by a motorcycle engine serving as a generator for an electric motor.

Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark says the car industry is on the brink of a revolution that could see small capacity engines used in conjunction with powerful electric motors.

He said small engines made sense “if you think about motorbike technology and how much power motorbike manufacturers get out of a one-litre engine or a 900cc engine”.

“Small V-twins, three-cylinder engines, two-cylinder engines. All of these engines could power future vehicles. “

And if you linked it to a powerful electric motor, “you could have a lot of fun too”.

He says that range-extender engines are Jaguar’s preferred route towards electrification.

“That’s one of the three major projects that we’re working on and I can absolutely see that as being the first phase for us. “But again it’s a chicken and an egg situation. The customers aren’t screaming for this kind of technology. We will provide it to comply with CO2 requirements but then someone’s got to want it.”

BMW has already implemented such a strategy with its upcoming i3 city car featuring a range-extending version with its battery pack supplemented by a 650cc V-twin engine from its range of scooters.

While BMW will build a fully-electric i3, it is expected that the range-extender option will be the only version initially available in Australia when it arrives next year.

Hallmark, however, believes that, eventually, electric cars will take over.

“There’s another revolution coming and now the whole world can see life beyond petrol.

“I think in the next ten years there won’t be one single solution, but we’ll be in an entirely different world when it comes to powertrains.”

His comments were backed up by Nissan executive Vice President Andy Palmer.

“Electrification one way or another is inevitable, as long as the planet’s getting warmer and as long as people are worrying about the air that they breathe,” he says.

“Whether you say you go all the way to electric or you go in steps of hybridisation or plug-in hybridisation, eventually all steps lead to electrification. It’s inevitable.”

Hallmark says that hydrogen fuel cells could also present an opportunity further down the track, although there were big scientific challenges remaining for hydrogen cars.

Palmer agrees, although he says collaboration between car makers can help defray the development costs and bring affordable hydrogen cars to market as early as 2017.

Nissan has partnered with Ford and Daimler to develop a commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

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