Rules and the road. The first track car from Techrules sees the auto maker rework its hybrid diesel micro-turbine electric powertrain, and could spell big things for the passenger vehicle market… Words: Sam Petters.
TECH INSIDER | TECHRULES REN RS
The push for electrification is changing the face of motorsport. As Formula E continues to grow in popularity and the World Rallycross Championship switches to an electric race series, a number of Chinese startups have come to the fore.
Formula E competitor NIO is the big Chinese name in racing at the moment, but it is little-known auto maker Techrules that is beginning to make a name for itself. Now a regular at the Geneva Motor Show, the company has gone about electrification in a different way from the rest. By using a diesel microturbine as a range extender, Techrules claims it can offer efficiency, ultra-low environmental impact and, most importantly, performance.
“An electric motor is used to drive the wheels, which effectively frees the combustion engine to exclusively convert chemical energy into mechanical energy and finally into electrical energy,” explains Techrules’s chief technology officer, Matthew Jin. “This unique powertrain design has enabled us to create a perfectly engineered high-performance electric track car.”
Unveiled in the AT96 and GT96 concepts in 2016, the system has since evolved, first for the Ren in 2017 and now for the car maker’s first track-only supercar, the Ren RS. Co-developed with motorsport specialist LM Gianetti, the aerospace-inspired car is a lightweight, high-performance single-seat racer.
Equipped with the powertrain now synonymous with the brand, the RS has a modular chassis design to allow a variety of configurations. The flagship version – with a 28.4kW lithium-ion polymer battery and two axial flux, liquid-cooled YASA motors at the front and four at the rear – will deliver 1,305ps and a range of 1,170km (730 miles) from 80 liters of diesel on the NEDC.
The TREV will also generate 780Nm at the front wheels and 1,560Nm at the back, moving the racer from 0-100km/h in just 2.5 seconds, and on to a top speed of 330km/h (205mph).
Go with the flow
But it’s not just the powertrain that has been reworked. “The main differences between the Ren and this RS is the job we did on the cooling and the aerodynamics,” says Luisa Gianetti, general manager at LM Gianetti. “That was a huge job, to try and find the perfect balance on everything. And we think we found it, with distribution 50:50 front and rear.”
To achieve that balance – a prerequisite to a good track car – the battery layout has been altered from the Ren. Packs are now placed laterally rather than centrally. And with a strengthened carbon-fiber monocoque chassis, a single cockpit layout and design changes that result in an aero efficiency of 3.36 and a drag coefficient of 0.43, the Ren RS is bred for racing. There is an FIA-certified safety fuel bladder beneath the floor, an OMP-manufactured carbon-fiber race seat and lightweight 380mm carbon ceramic discs, fitted in conjunction with six piston calipers by AP Racing.
The suspension, designed and manufactured by LM Gianetti, comprises an unequal length wishbone design at the front and rear. Made from high-strength tubular steel and TIG welded, the wishbones are designed to withstand the forces that would be experienced by GT3 racing cars.
But while the Ren RS is completely capable of GT racing, its US$2.9m price tag is prohibitive. “It’s a car that customers can buy and enjoy on the track or just have because it is an iconic object,” says Jin. “The primary goal is to show what Techrules is capable of, and then we will look at the start of road car production.”
And that is the next step for the auto maker. The Ren RS forms an illustration of what the TREV powertrain is capable of, and if Techrules’s first track car performs as expected on the automotive testing ground that is motorsport, the turbine electric powertrain could be the next big thing in passenger cars.
Revisions were made to the Ren RS’s powertrain, cooling and aerodynamics, and the battery layout differs from the road car model, with packs placed laterally to modify the vehicle’s weight distribution.