Diesel has come in for a lot of scrutiny in recent times, especially in the last 18 months since the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal.
But that doesn’t mean the fuel type is dead in the automotive sector.
That’s what little known car designer Techrules was arguing, as it revealed the outrageous diesel turbine and electric 217mph Ren hybrid supercar at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.
Scroll down for video
Diesel could have a future: This is Ren supercar – designed by Techrules, which says there is a place for the under-fire fuel in the automotive sector’s future It might look like a futuristic concept car – especially with the fighter-jet style opening canopy – but Techrules is taking orders for the car
While it uses an electric motor to generate that eye-popping power figure, a diesel-fuelled turbine-recharging system supplies juice to the batteries to make it possible.
And this isn’t just designed for outrageous supercar projects, the Chinese research and development company is so adamant that this is the way forward for vehicles of the future that it’s patented the system – and says it will make the cars.
Techrules – which says it merges ‘new tech’ and ‘new rules’ to create its name – class the system as a range extender, as it’s reliant on a conventional fuel source to guarantee a greater range.
The firm’s patent-protected hybrid powertrain combines ‘extensive experience of aerospace and electric vehicle technologies with several proprietary technical innovations to deliver unprecedented levels of efficiency and performance, and ultra-low environmental impact,’ according to the men in the know.
The initial batch of cars can be ordered now and will be built in Italy, with first deliveries predicted in 12 months’ time. No price has been disclosed but it’s expected to be about £2.2million
And it is claimed to have 1,287bhp, reach 217mph and sprint from 0 to 62mph in 2.5 seconds.
The diesel-fulled turbines recharge the batteries that in turn power the electric motors
But how does this diesel turbine car work?
According to the boffins at the Chinese R&D experts, TREV – standing for Turbine Recharging Electric Vehicle – uses a turbine to drive a generator, which charges the battery pack.
This in turn provides electricity to drive the motors powering the wheels.
Unlike many previously developed turbine powertrain systems – like the shelved Jaguar CX-75’s gas turbine format – there is no direct electrical feed from the generator to the electric motors in normal operation – it is only activated to power the car when the batteries are almost flat.
The design is unconventional and certainly not reserved, with a large F1-style shark fin and enormous rear diffuser The car designer has patented the diesel-fuelled turbine-recharging system, which they’re calling TREV (Turbine Recharging Electric Vehicle)
Techrules chief technology officer, Matthew Jin, said: ‘In the conventional cars that dominated the 20th century, the combustion engine that converts a fuel’s chemical energy into a useful mechanical energy is also the driving engine that turns the wheels.
‘Because turbines have always been a very inefficient way to convert chemical energy into useful, wheel-turning mechanical energy, only a few have tried to use a turbine in the powertrain system, and none have ever succeeded commercially.
‘But, with electric vehicles, 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 electric energy.
‘This is a major breakthrough, making it possible for us to use the highly efficient turbine engine as a superb range extender on our vehicles.’
The car has undertaken a shakedown at Monza to put the technology to the test on the track Techrules says the first 96 cars they make will be designed for track use only The car pictured here is a single seat version with a small pod, though you can choose to have one with two or three seats
So, is it fast?
Enough of the brain-aching tech talk – what does it all mean in terms of performance?
To reiterate, the total power output is a colossal 1,287bhp. That, combined with a human-free weight of 1,700kg, means it has 756bhp per ton.
To put that into perspective, that’s 26bhp per ton more than Bugatti’s £1.9 million Chiron hypercar.
Floor the throttle from a standing start and it will glide to 62mph in 2.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 217mph.
A video of the car being tested at Monza can be seen below, however it doesn’t look as sprightly as the vehicle designer claims in the footage.
But despite the claimed mesmerising pace it remains relatively economical, returning 31.5mpg from the hybrid power source and emitting 106k/km CO2 – some of the market’s most economical city cars can’t match that.
The vehicle is claimed to have a 0 to 62mph time of 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 217mph With the range topping model generating 1,287bhp and weighing 1,700kg, it has 756bhp per ton – 26bhp per ton more than Bugatti’s Chiron hypercar The most potent version has six electric motors onboard to power the wheels, though you can tailor your car to have four or two, thus reducing the power output
These stats are only relevant to the most potent version Techrules will make available.
This range-topping setup includes a six-motor powerplant, with two generating the thrust for the front wheels and another four powering the rear wheels.
The firm said it will offer two and four-motor setups too, which produce 429bhp and 858bhp respectively and greener economy numbers along with it.
There’s even a choice of battery packs – lithium ion units built in Britain with a capacity of 14kWh, 25kWh or 32kWh that can all be charged to 80 per cent in 15 minutes when plugged into a DC fast charger.
To make the ordering process even more of a headache, there are two types of TREV system as well – one with 40bhp and another with 107bhp, the latter of which promises 727 miles of range from electric power and a supplementary 80 litres of diesel. In full electric mode it can go for 124 miles.
The canopy roof is designed to eliminate the need for doors, which means the chassis is structurally more rigid The model seen in these images has the three-seat layout, with the driver flanked by two passengers It’s a similar seating arrangement to the original McLaren F1 road car
What is going on with that roof?
The canopy-like roof is mounted on four struts – two that fold into the sills and two behind the seats.
The idea is that it negates the need for doors and thus makes the chassis structurally more rigid, which means better handling.
You can even specify how many seats your version has, with the choice of a single-person pod, as shown in the testing images snapped at Monza, or two and three-seat layouts, like the show car revealed in Geneva on Tuesday.
With the latter setup the driver remains in the middle of the chassis and is flanked by two passengers, like the original McLaren F1 design.
From inside the car, it’s as much of a tech fest as you might imagine from a car designed by an R&D department.
The traditional instrument cluster is replaced with three screens showing video footage taken from around the car and displays communicating journey information to the driver.
The seats are even kitted out with speakers and microphones so it’s easier to chat with passengers (which must mean it can get a little noisy in there).
This also allows the occupants to chat with people outside the vehicle via speakers hidden under the car’s badge – with that roof it’s not like you’ll be able to wind the windows down for a chinwag, is it?
The most expensive version is set to cost in the region of £2.2 million. That’s around £300,000 more than a Bugatti Chiron The cars will be built in Italy with no more than 10 being produced a year, Techrules claimed First deliveries are expected to be with customers by this time next year. We will wait to see if that is the case
Wait, can I actually buy one of these?
Yep, though it won’t come cheap. While no price has been revealed, rumours suggest it could cost up to a whopping £2.2 million for the most potent version.
The first batch of 96 cars will be for track use only, with no more than 10 being produced each year.
All of them will be built in a facility in Italy, and orders are open with the assurance that the first round of vehicles will be delivered to customers in 12 months’ time. Whether any orders have been placed is another thing entirely.