A hybrid diesel turbine powerplant? What the hell?!

I remember when I first heard about the Techrules Ren last year, thinking to myself - “Hmm, that’s pretty interesting. Too bad it’s probably not gonna happen.” Could you blame me? The specs and tech on this thing are next-level weirdness, the sort of stuff we’re used to seeing on concept cars, not a model that would actually make it into the real world. Well, it looks like I couldn’t be more wrong because Techrules just released a final production version of the Ren at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. It’s dubbed the RS, and it looks to take on the world’s fastest track machines with its own innovative spin on speed.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story

Who Is Techrules?

2016 Techrules AT96 TREV High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Techrules AT96, one of the first concepts to introduce the hybrid micro-turbine idea back in 2016.

If you’ve never heard of the Ren or its creator Techrules, don’t feel bad. Based in China, Techrules is a relatively new player in the high-performance scene, introducing a slew of new concepts over the past few years at high-profile events like the Geneva International Motor Show and Concorso d’Eleganza. The Ren RS is the first time any of these crazy ideas have actually been presented as production-ready.

You Said Something About Turbines?

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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The Ren is still a hybrid, employing both electric power and chemical combustion to create power. However, the way it goes about it is, well, really weird.

While most makes out there use a traditional piston-driven engine to create horsepower, either as the primary means of propulsion with assistance from an electric motor, or as a range extender to juice electric motors for the motive power, the Ren RS uses something Techrules is calling Turbine-Recharging Electric Vehicle technology, offering “ultra-low environmental impact” with simply ludicrous power potential.

Take note - the Ren is still a hybrid, employing both electric power and chemical combustion to create power. However, the way it goes about it is, well, really weird.

Let’s start at the axles, where you’ll find an array of electric motors to drive the wheels. Providing the electricity to the motors is a lithium-ion polymer battery pack.

Now here’s the weird part. When the electrons run out, the batteries feed off electricity generated but a diesel turbine engine, which converts chemical energy (diesel fuel) into mechanical energy, and then into electrical energy. In this set-up, the motors still provide the thrust, but the electricity is coming from the turbines. In that sense, the turbines are essentially range extenders, juicing up the battery pack as opposed to driving the wheels. Techrules says there’s no direct electrical feed between the turbine and motors.

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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The air is compressed and mixed with diesel fuel before it is ignited, creating energy that spins a set of turbine vanes.

Similar in principle to large powerplant generators or a jet engine, the Techrules turbines are force-fed air in front, with the atmosphere directed through a heat exchanger before it reaches the cold intake. The air is then compressed and mixed with diesel fuel before it is ignited. This creates energy that spins a set of turbine vanes, with the spent gasses then redirected to the heat exchanger to recapture excess heat energy for further efficiency.

Techrules says it’ll offer a number of different engine and motor configurations with the Ren RS, with either four or six liquid-cooled electric motors for motive power. That’ll make it AWD, with up to two electric motors per rear wheel in the top six-motor configuration. Buyers will also get to choose between a single 30-kW turbine, or two 80-kW turbines. Energy storage will consist of two 28.4-kWh battery packs, which were made specifically for the RS. To keep everything in the green, there are three water cooling circuits for the motors, battery, and inverter.

The four-motor configuration makes 858 horsepower and 1,150 pound-feet of torque, while the six-motor configuration makes 1,287 horsepower and 1,725 pound-feet. Keep your foot of it, and Techrules says it’ll provide upwards of 1,170 km (727 miles) of range on just 80 liters (21 gallons) of diesel fuel. And for those of you keeping track at home, that’s 34 mpg. Not bad for four-figure output, eh?

And oh yeah - acceleration to 62 mph will take just 3 seconds, while top speed is rated at 330 km/h (205 mph).

Sounds Pretty Promising…

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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Techrules certainly thinks so. In fact, it’s looking to leverage its hybrid turbine tech in several other applications beyond the four-wheeled racer variety. Most promising are trains, as Techrules says it’s entered a “Memorandum of Understanding” with CRRC, a worldwide supplier of rail transit equipment, and that it could see use the turbine tech in the up-and-coming Autonomous rail Rapid Transit system. Busses are another possibility.

The Ren RS Certainly Looks High-Tech

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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Techrules says that “form follows function” with the Ren, plus the RS gets several upgrades over the regular model.

We agree. To be honest, the Techrules Ren RS looks unlike pretty much anything currently on the market, with triangular aero features for the front intakes, a very low, rounded cockpit, and other weird little details.

Techrules says that “form follows function” with the Ren, plus the RS gets several upgrades over the regular model, including more effective aerodynamics and improved cooling capabilities.

The front end was also designed to create as little drag as possible while still maximizing cooling efficiency. Look to the sides and you’ll find turbine intakes and exhaust vents.

The wing in the rear was penned by none other than L.M. Gianetti, and uses a swan neck design with a single foil. Techrules also says it’s configurable to offer multiple downforce levels as needed. All told, the set-up makes a lot of stick, but still posts a drag coefficient of 0.43. Not amazing, but not terrible either. Plus, with all that torque, it shouldn’t have too much difficulty pushing through the air.

What About The Interior?

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Interior
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Things get a little more conventional in the interior, with a single-seat (the original Ren got a very odd three-seater layout), plus oodles of carbon for, well, everything. A roll cage keeps it safe, while a digital readout provides vital info to the driver. Hard buttons and knobs are spread out across the whole thing, looking like a space straight out the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

How Does It Handle?

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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The suspension uses unequal length wishbones front and rear, and are designed to “withstand the level of forces that would be experienced by GT3 racing cars.”

Tear away the insane turbine diesel powerplant, and you’ll find things get a little closer to “normal” for the segment.

There’s a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis that can fit a number of different powertrain configurations, plus supplementary aluminum and steel parts as well.

The suspension uses unequal length wishbones front and rear, and are designed to “withstand the level of forces that would be experienced by GT3 racing cars.” There’s also in-board horizontally mounted KW three-way adjustable coilovers with pushrods, plus front and rear anti-roll bars. In the corners are 380 mm (15-inch) carbon ceramic brakes squeezed by six-pot calipers from AP Racing which help to haul it down.

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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While certainly powerful and top-shelf, the suspension and handling bits are all pretty standard for a racing car.

While certainly powerful and top-shelf, the suspension and handling bits are all pretty standard for a racing car. We would have loved it if there was some crazy adaptable set-up, but perhaps Techrules is saving that for the production street car. Plus, this more standard set-up makes it more likely the RS will be used for competition in a modern racing series (more on that in a bit).

That said, the traction control and torque vectoring are relatively advanced, employing 30 sensors to monitor conditions and apply as much power as possible for the available grip. There are two modes to choose from, including “Race” for full power and Standard for better efficiency, with the latter possibly making for a good fit for endurance racing.

Where Would This Thing Even Race?

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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We would love to see the Techrules Ren RS compete in something like the Garage 56 experimental class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

It’s a good question. With such a wacky power plant set-up, we’re not sure which series would work for the Techrules Ren RS. We would love to see it compete in something like the Garage 56 experimental class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as the combination of efficiency and high power seems like the perfect fit.

Either way, Techrules says the Ren RS meets FIA motorsports standards for safety, including an 80-liter FIA-certified “fuel bladder” under the floor, as well as a carbon fiber racing seat courtesy of OMP, a fire extinguisher system, and a six-point racing harness. An air jack system is offered for quick pit stops.

Any More Weirdness To Check Out?

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Interior
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Just this - the cockpit. Apparently, it uses something called a Safety Canopy Ejection system, kinda like on a fighter jet. The system will automatically open up the roof using electric actuators if an impact is detected.

Conclusion

All told, the Techrules Ren offers lots of innovative and strange features. But we’re quite happy to see them on a racing car - the track is the perfect place to refine the systems and find their limits and their benefits.

Time to prove the concept, Techrules. Put it on the track and see what happens.

References

The Techrules Ren RS Is High-Tech Speed At Its Weirdest Exterior
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Radical Techrules Ren RS Storms into Geneva with Almost 1,300 HP

2018 Techrules Ren High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Techrules Ren.

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