Toyota Showcases New Engine Design, Specifically For Range Extending Photo:
toyota_free_piston_fpeg_range_extender_engine_02 Photo: tmr
toyota_free_piston_fpeg_range_extender_engine_03 Photo: tmr
toyota_free_piston_fpeg_range_extender_engine_01 Photo: tmr
Trevor Collett | May, 01 2014 | 6 Comments

Toyota has showcased a new internal combustion engine design specifically for use in range-extended electric vehicles.

Called the Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG), the main purpose of this power plant – unlike conventional internal combustion engines - is to generate electricity.

Toyota says the new design is smaller and lighter, as it does not require connecting rods or a crankshaft (hence the ‘free piston’ reference).

In place of those parts, the combustion process acts like a ‘spring’, returning the piston to the top of the combustion chamber after each ignition stroke to begin the process again. The fuel-burning process itself shares some similarities with a two-stroke engine.

While conventional petrol and diesel engines can be used to drive a generator, the FPEG design generates electricity internally, as the piston itself contains a magnet and the chamber surrounding it acts as a coil.

Toyota says its initial design is only producing 10kW for now, but just two of these FPEG cylinders can produce enough electricity to keep a light or small-sized vehicle travelling at a steady 120km/h.

The Japanese carmaker believes that two cylinders could be the ideal set-up for its new design, ideally horizontally-opposed like a ‘boxer’ engine to minimise vibration and harshness.

BMW has also gone with a two-cylinder engine to provide charge for its i3 EV, with the 647cc i3 range-extender and its all-electric sibling due to arrive in Australia from November.

Mitsubishi’s recent Outlander PHEV arrival uses a 2.0 litre petrol engine, acting as generator while also able to drive the front wheels.

Holden’s Volt is currently fitted with a 1.4 litre four-cylinder engine to generate electricity, but reports last year suggested GM would also be looking at smaller engines for the next-generation Volt.

MORE: Toyota News And Reviews

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