BRP is working with a Canadian university to develop hybrid engine technology for the Can-Am Spyder roadster.
The Automotive Partnership Canada program and BRP have invested $6.2 million and $5.1 million, respectively, into the project headed by the Centre de Technologies Avancées (CTA) at the Université de Sherbrooke. The funding will see the project extend over a four-year period.
“Our mandate is ambitious and complex,” Mihai Rasidescu, president and general manager of the CTA, says in a press release. “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.”
José Boisjoli, BRP’s president and CEO, says, “By deciding to establish R&D centers, BRP confirmed its commitment to accelerate the development of cleaner and more efficient new technologies. 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 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 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,” Desrochers says. “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.
The CTA opened in 2006 as a partnership between BRP and the Université de Sherbrooke. Its mandate is to develop cutting-edge technologies in the field of motorized recreational vehicles. So far, 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.
Posted by Arlo Redwine