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Plug-in hybrid Can-Am Spyder in the works

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January 4, 2011

A hybrid version BRP's Can-Am Spyder roadster is under development

A hybrid version BRP's Can-Am Spyder roadster is under development

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Since its launch in 2007, Bombardier Recreational Products’ (BRP) Can-Am Spyder roadster has carved a unique place for itself with its distinctive Y-architecture – two wheels in the front and one in the back – which gives the vehicle the open-air exhilaration of a motorbike combined with the stability of a four-wheeled vehicle. We were duly impressed by our first test ride on the three-wheeler back in 2008, but now a new take on the Spyder is on the horizon. As part of the Canadian government’s efforts to boost that country’s automotive research and development, a project is underway to develop a hybrid version which aims to equal the performance of the current Rotax 998cc V-Twin powered model.

With the Spyder being the only mass-production, on-road vehicle that is entirely designed and manufactured in Canada, the Centre de technologies avancées BRP – Université de Sherbrooke (CTA) – a non profit organization founded by BRP and Université de Sherbrooke (UdeS) to research and develop technologies for motorized recreational products – will receive US$6.2 million from the Automotive Partnership Canada program and US$5.1 million from BRP, making for a total of US$11.3 million in financial support to develop new hybrid engine technology for the roadster.

According to the CTA, the Spyder’s unique Y-architecture creates its own unique challenges in meeting the project’s goals of developing completely new electric hybrid technology that uses 50 percent less fuel and cuts CO2 emissions by 50 percent, while maintaining the vehicles speed, power and performance. The team also aims to give the vehicle a total range of 600 km (375 miles) and a range of 30 km (20 miles) in electric mode.

A hybrid version BRP's Can-Am Spyder roadster is under development

Out with the old…

The team recognizes that the roadster’s size alone poses major challenges for integrating two forms of motorization on the same chassis, not to mention the hybrid elements including batteries, control module and regenerative braking system.

Additionally, to retain the fast starts and acceleration of the current Can-Am Spyder, the project researchers have been given the task of designing a transmission and control strategy which allows electric and internal combustion engines to combine their strength to offer, on command, performances that are similar to BRP's current Spyder 990 RS roadster.

To meet these criteria, the project’s research team says it will have to design an entirely new propulsion system, rather than modifying existing hybrid technology. This will include reducing the weight of the current parts to compensate for the addition of the hybrid elements. The team will also take the opportunity to optimize the shape of the vehicle’s body to minimize aerodynamic drag, while providing adequate cooling of the brakes and radiator.

“Creating a three-wheel vehicle as opposed to a hybrid car poses significant design challenges that require a very high degree of innovation," said Professor Alain Desrochers from the Université de Sherbrooke’s Mechanical Engineering Department who leads the research team. "These challenges include the lack of space to accommodate hybrid motorization, cooling problems, aerodynamics, vehicle weight, and noise. Everything must be studied and modified.”

The project also hopes to position Quebec as a hub of expertise in hybrid electric vehicle technology with any technological innovations it develops also potentially transferable to other types of vehicles.

The CTA says it aims to produce three generations of prototypes and their components over the next four years, with the final product needing to pass the test in terms of performance, reliability, durability, and economic mass production.

We’ll be watching the development of the hybrid version of the Can-Am Spyder roadster with interest and will keep you updated with details as we get them.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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6 Comments

Now if they can come up with a removable 'enclosure' for this Hybrid, our northern neighbors would have an All-Season vehicle that could be used as a daily commuter and not just a summer 'fun machine'.

Roger W.
4th January, 2011 @ 05:26 am PST

Great looking vehicle, as a poor old pensioner I'd love one, unfortunately hybridisation is a real turn-off to me.

Terotech
4th January, 2011 @ 06:20 am PST

Great... another crap product to hawk to the masses.

"...two wheels in the front and one in the back - which gives the vehicle the open-air exhilaration of a motorbike combined with the stability of a four-wheeled vehicle." Not a chance! This thing has the worst stability in the world!

After testing one out for about a week I'll forever be against these piece of crap. It's honestly like driving a snowmobile with bad skis but on the road. It has no bark, the fenders lack design, it's so heavy that the one wheel just can't get the job done under acceleration, and because of the Y design the bike slides outward when you make accelerating turns. One small tire cannot hold the entire weight of a bike that heavy.

Stick with a Harley or Honda Trike if you want a three-wheeled bike. Then you'll only look half as dumb and have half the regret.

Their quads are incredible though! Go with one of those and I promise you'll have the time of your life.

AlexBizzar
4th January, 2011 @ 06:32 am PST

As a Harley owner and one who has access to a 2009 Spyder Roadster, I think I should respond to AlexBizzar's comments:

"After testing one out for about a week I'll forever be against these piece of crap. It's honestly like driving a snowmobile with bad skis but on the road. It has no bark, the fenders lack design, it's so heavy that the one wheel just can't get the job done under acceleration, and because of the Y design the bike slides outward when you make accelerating turns. One small tire cannot hold the entire weight of a bike that heavy."

First of all, it handles differently, OBVIOUSLY, than a motorcycle... but for under a 1000cc engine, it has plenty of bark, if you know how to ride it. As for it's weight... my Harley weighs more than the Spyder. You should check the specs. I have sucessfully made many a high speed turn with the Roadster... It has plenty of acceleration and control. It unfortunately has more of a sport bike feel and shift to it which really isn't my cup of tea, but it is comfortable and gets the job done well. If the Spyder's "Y" design isn't for you, so be it... but, you should at least know what it's about and how to ride it before you slap your boot in mouth.

As for traditional Trikes, I'm not sure you've had the pleasure there either. If you had you would know that the Spyder's "Y" design is for more stable, especially when cornering than a traditional Trike...Harely or Honda.

Read up, Ride up, and Try Again!...*L*

RandyMSI
4th January, 2011 @ 11:00 am PST

Hybrid motorcycles? My bike already gets great gas mileage, what needs to happen is more people need to ride a motorcycle to work instead of their big suv.......

Jessemac
5th January, 2011 @ 10:23 pm PST

For those of us who could get by with one vehicle or two if a trike, why not provide a cover at least as an option? For some, that might make it a year-round, controlled environment and be their only vehicle!

Will, the tink
6th January, 2011 @ 04:19 pm PST
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