Can-Am plug in hybrid Spyder – Click above to watch video after the jump

The Centre de technologies avancées BRP at the Université de Sherbrooke (CTA) was granted C$11.3 million ($11.3 million U.S. at the current exchange rate) to develop a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the Can-Am Spyder roadster – a three-wheeler produced by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP). The Can-Am plug-in hybrid will feature a 600 cc engine linked to a 20 kW electric motor that's powered by a lithium-ion battery pack. The total range for the plug-in version is expected to be 375 miles, 20 of which can be traversed without the gasoline engine firing up.

Mihai Rasidescu, president and general manager of the CTA, sums up the goals that will drive the development of the plug-in hybrid Can-Am:
Our goal is to develop completely new electric hybrid technology for a three-wheel vehicle that uses 50 percent less fuel and reduces CO2 emissions by 50 percent while maintaining its speed, power and performance.
The project's research team is headed up by professor Alain Desrochers from the CTA's mechanical engineering department. The development team includes 30 individuals from the CTA and BRP. Desrochers describes the specific challenges that must be overcome in developing a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the Can-Am:
Creating a three-wheel vehicle as opposed to a hybrid car poses significant design challenges that require a very high degree of innovation. These challenges include the lack of space to accommodate hybrid motorization, cooling problems, aerodynamics, vehicle weight, and noise. Everything must be studied and modified.
Hop the jump to watch plug-in Can-Am in action.

[Source: Bombardier Recreational Products]


PRESS RELEASE

DEVELOPMENT OF HYBRID TECHNOLOGY FOR BRP'S CAN-AM SPYDER ROADSTER


Sherbrooke, December 20, 2010 – The Centre de technologies avancées BRP – Université de Sherbrooke (CTA) receives $11.3 million in financial support to develop hybrid engine technology for BRP's Can-Am Spyder roadster. This is the only electric hybrid roadster development project in the world.

An injection of $6.2 million from the Automotive Partnership Canada program and $5.1 million from BRP will see the project extend over a four-year period. Steven Blaney, MP for Lévis-Bellechasse, Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Guy Lévesque, program director of the Canada Foundation for Innovation were present for this major announcement, along with Université de Sherbrooke's principal, Luce Samoisette, and BRP's president and CEO, José Boisjoli.

First launched in 2007, the Can-Am Spyder roadster is a totally unique way to experience the freedom of open-air riding. Its distinctive Y-architecture – two wheels in front, one in back – creates challenges that push the limits of electric hybrid vehicle technology. "Our mandate is ambitious and complex," explained Mihai Rasidescu, president and general manager of the CTA. "Our goal is to develop completely new electric hybrid technology for a three-wheel vehicle that uses 50% less fuel and reduces CO2 emissions by 50% while maintaining its speed, power and performance."

"By deciding to establish R & D centres, BRP confirmed its commitment to accelerate the development of cleaner and more efficient new technologies," stated José Boisjoli, BRP's president and CEO. "The powertrain technologies used in our snowmobiles, side-by-side vehicles, and outboard engines are already the best in the industry in terms of fuel consumption, and are milestones towards our goal of providing consumers with increasingly eco-performing technology."

The CTA is at the heart of innovation, and the cooperation between the Université de Sherbrooke and BRP is an unparalleled asset in research and development projects.

"As included in our strategic plan, Réussir 2010-2015, the University is reviving its distinctive approach to research and pursuing its commitment to socio-economic development in the Estrie region and the province," said principal Luce Samoisette. "Without a doubt this applied research project will produce a skilled new generation of engineers and have a significant impact on several levels." Through this initiative, 20 post-graduate students will become highly trained.

Original design challenges
The project's research team is led by Professor Alain Desrochers from the Université de Sherbrooke's Mechanical Engineering Department and includes about 30 people from the University and BRP. The team will need to be original during the development of the components. The roadster's compact size alone poses major challenges. Rather than modifying existing hybrid technology, the researchers will have to design an entirely new propulsion system.

"Creating a three-wheel vehicle as opposed to a hybrid car poses significant design challenges that require a very high degree of innovation," said professor Desrochers. "These challenges include the lack of space to accommodate hybrid motorization, cooling problems, aerodynamics, vehicle weight, and noise. Everything must be studied and modified."

Over the next four years the CTA will produce three generations of prototypes and their components. The final product must pass the test in terms of performance, reliability, durability, and economic mass production. Any technological innovations will be potentially transferable to other types of vehicles and products.

About the CTA
The Centre de technologies avancées BRP – Université de Sherbrooke (CTA) is the result of a partnership between BRP and the Université de Sherbrooke. Its mandate is to develop new cutting-edge technologies in the field of motorized recreational vehicles. Since it opened in 2006, the CTA has developed two technologies that have been integrated into BRP products: a technology used in manufacturing the hulls of the new generation of Sea-Doo watercraft, and the five-speed semi-automatic transmission available on Can-Am Spyder roadsters. The CTA currently employs more than 70 researchers and students, and expects to become self-financing as of 2011.

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