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Chinese company tests turbine-driven electric super car

Chinese company Techrules brings a svelte carbon fiber supercar to Geneva, showing off a new type of hybrid electric drivetrain.

Wayne Cunningham/Roadshow

What Chinese company Techrules brought to the Geneva auto show looks like many of the other exotic cars in nearby booths -- a low-slung, carbon fiber-bodied wedge of speed -- but the car itself is the really the less interesting thing on display. Techrules built this car as a testbed for a new series hybrid drivetrain.

The Techrules Turbine-Recharging Electric Vehicle (TREV) uses a single microturbine to keep its batteries charged, which in turn power an electric drive motor.

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That all may sound like a lot to achieve the same sort of power delivery as can be found in a Chevrolet Volt, but a Techrules spokesperson at the show said that a turbine is much more efficient than an internal combustion engine, at least when used as a generator. The turbine in the TREV spins at 96,000 rpm, and Techrules has built one using gasoline and one using aviation fuel. The turbine turns a generator, which sends electricity to a 20 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

The results, according to Techrules, are 1,030 horsepower, getting the TREV to 62 mph in 2.5 seconds. At the same time, the TREV can manage a range of 1,243 miles. Those numbers are partially due to the TREV's carbon fiber construction, which keeps its weight low.

Techrules plans to use the super car format, which is currently testing at Silverstone race track in England, as a means of introducing its innovative power plant to the world. If the first car meets with success, then Techrules plans on introducing an affordable city car.

If what it claims about the turbine drivetrain's performance is true, the company makes a good case for mass adoption of hybrids, at least until long range electric cars become common.

Techrules Turbine-Recharging Electric Vehicle

Techrules microturbine spins at 96,000 rpm, generating electricity for the car's batteries and drive motor.