When we last heard from Ian Wright, he was working on a battery-powered version of the Ariel Atom known as the Wrightspeed X1. The X1 has been used as a development platform for batteries, motors and electronics, which is what Wright actually hopes to sell.
These days, Wright is focusing on development of a plug-in series hybrid (aka extended range-electric vehicle) powertrain rather than going with full battery electric drive. As we know from the Chevrolet Volt, the hybrid configuration requires a much smaller battery than a pure electric vehicle. The X1 still has the original battery-only setup but, according to Wright, the series hybrid system will incorporate a small gas turbine engine driving a generator to sustain the battery's charge after the plug-in charge is depleted. Wright claims that at least two manufacturers are also developing sports cars based on his powertrain.
While sports cars like the Tesla Roadster and X1 are fun, as niche products they won't make much of a dent in overall energy consumption. That's why Wright wants to apply his high-powered drivetrain to the medium duty trucks that move so many products while burning a lot of fuel. Applying this sort of technology to high-consumption vehicles will make a much bigger difference to the nation's overall energy use. To this end, Wright plans to offer his system as a retrofit kit for existing trucks. Electric Vehicle News speculates from Wright's vague comments that he is using lightweight axial flux motors from EVO Electric. These are the same motors being used by the Imperial College team driving a Radical SRZero down the Panamerican highway. You can see a video of Wright discussing his latest work after the jump. A tip of the hat to Dan!
[Source: Earth2Tech, Electric Vehicle News]