Mini in rotary research project

July 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

The rotary engine could be up for a revival: Felix Wankel’s compact, high-power, smooth-running unit is now thought to be suitable for use as a range-extender/generator in an electric powertrain, given advances in electronic control systems, machining and new materials that can overcome the traditional hitches such as excessive oil consumption and poor reliability. Audi previewed the idea in the e-tron concept car (some heritage there: remember the NSU Ro80?) and now powertrain development company AVL has built a Mini RE-EV prototype featuring a single-rotor 254cc engine.

The ultra-light AVL powertrain produces 15kW at 5000rpm or 25kw at 7000rpm, reports Wards Auto, and generates electricity to give an all-electric range of 19 miles and an all-in range of 124 miles, thanks to a tiny 2.6-gallon fuel tank. The prototype’ll do 0-62mph in 12 seconds.

AVL is now looking to license the technology and a spokesman says that supplier firms have shown an interest in manufacturing the engine. A 357cc version developing 36kW has also been created, plus a 50kW double-rotor unit.

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