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  May 14, 2014

Even though new and usable EV’s are on the rise but combustion engines are likely to remain in the market for some time. They might be used in plug-in hybrids and range-extended EV’s. The need then is on refining combustion power to work cordially with increasingly electrified vehicles and Toyota’s new Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG) could be one solution. The idea of a linear engine is nothing new as engineers and research departments have been developing them for years. Instead, kinetic energy of the piston’s back-and-forth movement is used to generate power. In Toyota’s FPEG, it’s down to the movement of an unusual W-shaped piston within a special chamber. The centre of the “W” sits in a combustion chamber, which works on a two-stroke cycle. Burned gas is scavenged out through ports in the cylinder head during the exhaust phase, while fresh air is brought in through a port in the cylinder liner. Its compact size makes it ideal as a generator for range-extended electric vehicles. Toyota’s test units are only 13 horsepower, but a pair of them generates enough electricity for a Yaris or Corolla-sized vehicle to cruise on the motorway at 75 mph. If that sounds unimpressive, consider that one early BMW i3 reviewer struggled to maintain safe highway speeds in the range-extended version when the two-cylinder engine was unable to sufficiently maintain battery charge. It’s still a way from production reality, but it shows that future range-extended vehicles may not be limited by the size, weight and power-generation constraints of conventional piston engines.

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