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Turbine range extender to enter production by 2019? [Video]

by Justin King

Delta Motorsports claims its MiTRE turbine range extender will be on the roads by 2020.

A micro-turbine range extender could soon become a market reality, serving as a compact alternative to piston engines for plug-in hybrid vehicles.

UK-based Delta Motorsport has developed a micro turbine range extender (MiTRE) system billed as more efficient, smaller and more affordable than a piston engine. Crucially, the company claims to have finally established a path to production.

"We will be entering into a partnership later this year to produce a motor for a production model," Delta's engineering director, Nick Carpenter, told Autocar. "I can't say with who, but it'll be produced in 2019 and arrive on roads in 2020."

Turbines first appeared in concept cars many years ago. The Jaguar C-X75 is among the best known examples, debuting at the 2010 Paris Motor Show with a turbine-electric hybrid system. In most cases, the turbine is used to power an electric generator without any mechanical coupling to the wheels.

Beijing-based startup Techrules earlier this month introduced the GT96 (pictured), a futuristic concept outfitted with a micro turbine and a 1,030-horsepower electric powertrain. The company claims to be already testing a fully-functioning prototype on the Silverstone track in the UK. Perhaps not coincidentally, Delta Motorsport's headquarters is located in the Silverstone Technology Park adjacent to the circuit.

Carpenter suggests 90 percent of the MiTRE's cost can be traced to production processes, leaving plenty of room for further price declines as volume increases. The comments hint at an intention to move downmarket, even if the first examples land in more expensive cars.

Photo by Ronan Glon.