• Image Credit: Renault
  • Image Credit: Renault
  • Image Credit: Renault
  • Image Credit: Renault
  • Image Credit: Renault
The Renault-Nissan Alliance bills itself as the worldwide leader in electric vehicles with a claimed 58 percent of the global market share. In the highly competitive world of increasingly efficient powertrains, development can never stand still if the company wants to maintain that dominance. Renault just held a show of its latest drivetrain prototypes. The most bizarre of them wasn't electrified, but it was so weird that it needed to be shared.

Dubbed the Powerful, the experimental engine is a 730cc, two-stroke, two-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged diesel that makes between 47 and 67 horsepower and 83 to 107 pound-feet of torque. The mill is lightweight, too, tipping the scales at 88 pounds less than the company's current 1.5-liter diesel. This is the type of design that cargo ships sometime use, and now a miniature version could find its way into a city car. Just imagine blasting around Paris in a Twingo with this thing buzzing away behind you.

Unfortunately, the Powerful isn't ready for primetime yet because Renault doesn't think the performance is up to snuff. It's working with 18 partners in Europe to try to make the tiny engine a reality, though.

In addition to the Powerful, Renault unveiled several other projects. It's working on a mild hybrid diesel designed for light commercial vehicles like delivery vans and a small trailer for the Twizy to let it carry goods for short distances. The automaker has a compact electric motor of its own design and a more efficient bi-fuel gasoline and liquefied petroleum gas engine on display; both of these are set to go on sale next year. Read more about them all in the press release below.
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RENAULT LIFTS THE LID ON FUTURE MOBILITY IDEAS

New Renault compact electric motor to improve EV efficiency

Small petrol/LPG turbo engine to lower fuel bills by 25 per cent

Innovations for urban deliveries and electrification

'HYDIVU' prototype: Mild-Diesel Hybrid for LCVs

'POWERFUL' prototype: two-stroke, two-cylinder super-charged and turbo-charged diesel engine

'VELUD' prototype: Twizy-based electric urban delivery solution

Renault's innovations 'think tank' reveals what is coming in the next few years

Production starts within 12 months for some innovations


Renault today lifted the lid on two innovations based on its EOLAB prototype, both of which are scheduled to appear in production cars in 2015. At the same time the innovative French company has revealed three longer-term approaches to low-fuel consumption, low-emissions mobility.

All were unveiled at an Innovations@Renault event in Paris, where the company's Co-operative Innovations Laboratory (LCI) – a think tank that unites engineers, designers and customer survey specialists – gave a behind-the-scenes peek into how Renault powertrains and propulsion systems might evolve in the next few years.

Renault has developed a new, more efficient and more compact electric motor and a new turbocharged petrol engine adapted for use with LPG (liquified petroleum gas), both of which are scheduled for introduction next year. Looking further ahead, Renault and its partners are looking at a mild hybrid diesel prototype (HYDIVU project), a diminutive two-stroke diesel engine (POWERFUL project) and a small electric delivery vehicle based on the Twizy (VELUD project) as the basis for clean, low-cost urban mobility.

Production-ready power units

New, compact electric motor

The new, compact electric motor ­– designed and made entirely by Renault – delivers similar performance to those in use today but is around 10 per cent smaller. It is a synchronous unit with a wound rotor and delivers 65 kW (88hp) and 220 Nm of torque. It was designed by Renault's motor engineers in France and manufactured in Renault's Cléon plant.

Renault has switched from macro-module stacking to fully integrated modules, assembled closely so that no external power supply cables are necessary. The junction box and integrated Chameleon charger (as fitted to ZOE) are contained within a single Power Electronic Controller, which is 25 per cent smaller than existing systems.

The motor is now air-cooled, simplifying the system with only the Power Electronic Controller continuing to be cooled by water. Improved electronic management reduces charging times using the 3kW and 11kW flexi-cable, while a redesigned inverter improves efficiency and reducing power consumption.

Dual-fuel petrol/LPG engine

Renault's new dual-fuel petrol/LPG engine promises 25 per cent lower fuel bills and 10 per cent lower CO2 emissions than a comparable petrol-only power unit. It is a three-cylinder engine featuring a turbocharger, engine Stop&Start, brake energy recovery and an eco-mode, and it complies with EU6 emissions regulations. These modern technologies realise a fuel consumption reduction of 20 per cent compared to a previous-generation LPG engine. The technical challenge was to achieve the right balance between turbo boost and LPG pressure while allowing maximum use in LPG mode with no input from the driver. The entire powertrain is fitted at the factory complete with its LPG kit.

Research Prototypes

'HYDIVU' – Mild-Hybrid diesel


The 'HYDIVU' (Hybrid Diesel for LCVs) research prototype aims to reduce fuel consumption and therefore running costs for high-mileage business users. It is based on the Master van powered by Renault's ENERGY dCi 165 Twin Turbo diesel engine, and has been engineered in conjunction with a number of European partners.

It integrates a 48-volt (10-12 kW) starter motor and alternator-type electric motor mounted on the gearbox to deliver additional torque and reduce the load on the combustion engine. Its positioning, as close as possible to the wheel, promotes greater efficiency by allowing maximum recovery of energy during deceleration and braking. This 'free energy' is stored in the 48-volt battery to be used as extra torque on demand.

The power unit also features what Renault calls 'Downspeeding' – longer gear ratios which reduce engine revolutions when cruising to lower fuel consumption – while the twin turbos with variable geometry have been specially adapted to this concept. Significant levels of torque are available from just 1,000 rpm, and driveability is consistent across the entire rev band. Internal friction has been reduced through innovations like the steel pistons, and fuel injection pressure has been raised by 25 per cent to 2,500 bar to reduce emissions.

These three technologies result in a fuel consumption reduction of up to 10 percent over long distances.

'POWERFUL' – two-stroke, two-cylinder super-charged and turbo-charged diesel engine

Two-stroke diesel engines are commonplace in large container ships. Their thermal efficiency is around 50 per cent while four-stroke diesels struggle to reach 35 per cent. The difficulty, until now, has been in adapting two-stroke technology for an engine small enough for automotive use, which Renault is aiming to solve with its 'POWERFUL' (POWERtrain for Future Light-duty vehicles) project.

The two-cylinder engine is only half the size of Renault's 1.5-litre dCi diesel, weighs 40 kg less, ideally suited for small vehicle platforms. This 730cc unit is both super-charged and turbo-charged and produces between 35kW and 50kW (48hp-68hp) with 112-145Nm of torque from 1,500rpm.

Initial tests are encouraging, although the performance needs to be improved before Renault could consider introducing it. The engine is being developed with 18 industrial, scientific and academic partners in France, Spain and the Czech Republic, with investment from the European Union.

'VELUD' (Electric Vehicle for Sustainable Urban Logistics) project

With urban deliveries in mind, Renault has produced its 'VELUD' (Electric Vehicle for Sustainable Urban Logistics) project, based on the Twizy, in conjunction with a number of academic and civic partners. It is intended as a 'final miles' solution to take cargo loaded into a small trailer from pre-defined zones to their final delivery point using intelligent fleet management.

All these projects are the work of LCI, a group within Renault which has been given the freedom to step outside the framework of conventional product programmes and come up with completely original mobility solutions. The Twizy, Renault's NEXT TWO autonomous connected vehicle prototype and EOLAB are just some of the solutions already created by LCI.

ENDS

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