Triumph Poised To Lead The Electric Motorcycle Field With The TE-1 Prototype
Phase 2 of the project is complete, and it looks promising.
Triumph has managed to squeak by without much fanfare regarding its TE-1 electric motorcycle prototype for the past two years, partially because it has distracted us with rollouts of so many new or updated models, all with internal combustion engines. Triumph also pulled it off by releasing a press release in 2019 stating its TE-1 project… then staying virtually silent about it all this time later. The onset of a global pandemic also helped steer people’s minds away from the project, but today Triumph has announced it has completed phase 2 of its TE-1 electric motorcycle project, and the details, while still a little vague, already look very promising. It should, considering the talent behind the project.
The four-way partnership between Triumph, Williams Advanced Engineering, Integral e-drive, and WMG at the University of Warwick comes as a result of funding by the UK government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK, the government’s research and innovation agency that supports business led R&D funding and UK business growth.
So far, based on the information Triumph has given us (you can find the full press release below), Triumph would be poised to lead the field of electric motorcycles – assuming, of course, all its claims hold up to be true. And yes, that’s a big if. However, let’s just take them at their word for now and analyze the information we’ve been given.
The team has successfully created a prototype powertrain, control unit, and battery, while simultaneously developing a chassis it will all fit into. And as you can see from the renderings below, the finished motorcycle will have heavy influences from the Speed/Street Triple design family. But we’ll get into that more later. Right now, let’s take a look at what each group brought to the table.
Williams Advanced Engineering
Followers of Formula 1 racing might recognize the Williams Advanced Engineering name, as it can trace its roots back to the legendary British racing outfit. For the TE-1 project, WAE developed the battery, battery management software, and the vehicle control unit for optimum performance. The big news here is that, unlike other production batteries used in e-motorcycles that cut back performance when charge is low, the WAE unit gives you “all the power, all the time, regardless of charge,” says Dyrr Ardash, Senior Commercial Manager at WAE.
Not surprisingly, Ardash goes on to say how the team developed the battery to produce class-leading range. Exact numbers weren’t provided, but especially with EVs, range is such a varying subject. What’s interesting is Ardash and his team modeled their battery simulations after track-based riding, as these are the conditions that drain batteries the fastest and punish them to the extreme. WAE also developed the control unit in-house, combining the battery management system with the bike control functions, creating a more compact unit for better packing within the motorcycle.
Integral Powertrain LTD.
Taking the battery’s energy and converting it into motion is the job of the motor and inverter (also referred to as the motor controller), and this task was developed by Integral Powertrain LTD’s E-Drive division. What they came up with is a one-piece motor and inverter, combining two components that are usually separate on other e-motorcycles. The advantage, of course, is producing a smaller (and presumably lighter) component that benefits the overall packaging of the motorcycle. It’s also scalable, to future-proof it if/when larger diameter motors are used.
This new design reduces the amount of heavy, high-voltage cables used, to help create a compact and lightweight motor and inverter. Here’s the juicy part: Integral Powertrain’s CTO Andrew Cross says the motor produces nearly 180 horsepower but weighs only 22 pounds (10 kg). Cross goes on to point out that the new inverter also incorporates silicon carbide switch technology for greater efficiency to go along with the reduced weight and what they claim will be class-leading range.
Crucially, Cross notes that the design of the motor and inverter took manufacturing and assembly into account. Meaning it’s scalable and able to be produced in enough numbers to make it cost-effective for the consumer. If true, this could be a game-changer.
WMG, At The University of Warwick
In short, the WMG team developed models of the battery, motor, and chassis to simulate how the motorcycle would perform on a computer, then created a physical test rig to test the components in as close to a real-world setting as possible. Primarily, the simulations and testing were to validate the battery, motor, inverter, and prototype software were correct for the application and to adjust if needed before components were fully designed.
The obvious contribution brought on by Triumph is in the development of a chassis, including main frame and subframe, for this new model, which will be further developed during Phases 3 and 4 of the project. Nonetheless, as you can see in these renderings, the TE-1 will clearly take its design inspiration from the Speed/Street Triple family, indicating the TE-1 will be a sport-type performance bike. This is fitting since the attributes of electric propulsion align best with sporty riding.
As we scroll through the press release, we see that Triumph is developing its own vehicle control software, including the throttle mapping, regenerative braking, traction control, and integrated safety settings, among likely many more parameters. There’s also an interesting note about the chassis development and taking into account “both the transmission design and the final styling” of the TE-1.
No mention of the battery’s range or charging capabilities were mentioned in Triumph’s release, but we expect it to at least accommodate Level 2 charging – the most common. Fast Charge DC would be nice, but the infrastructure still needs to be bulked up to support that. Interestingly, bolstering infrastructure (at least in the UK) is part of the government initiative behind this project in the first place.
Being still so early in the development process, we’re far from being able to report on a release date for the final, finished product. Heck, as of now the physical components of the TE-1 consist of the battery, motor, inverter, and chassis (frame/subframe). So best not to speculate beyond what we already have. Specifics like torque, range, and (projected) price are still unknown, so once we have more information, we’ll be sure to post it here.
For now, see the full press release below and enjoy the included photos.
Begin press release:
PROJECT TRIUMPH TE-1
CREATING UK ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE CAPABILITY
PHASE 2 – POWERTRAIN PROTOTYPE
With the exciting reveal of the innovative advanced electric powertrain and battery and the first styling sketches for the final Project TE-1 Prototype, Phase 2 of this landmark four phase collaboration in British design and engineering reaches a successful conclusion.
Delivering on the objectives announced at the start of the TE-1 project in May 2019, focused on developing specialized electric motorcycle technology and innovative integrated solutions, this unique collaboration between Triumph Motorcycles, Williams Advanced Engineering, Integral Powertrain Ltd, and WMG at the University of Warwick funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, has already achieved significant results.
Including innovation in battery and powertrain design, initial test performance results far exceed the current benchmarks and industry targets. Developments in performance, efficiency, and range is enabling Project TE-1 to fully deliver the partnership’s objectives to enhance the credibility and profile of British industry providing substantial input into the future electric motorcycle strategy from Triumph.
- Announcing the completion of Phase 2 – The reveal of the battery and powertrain prototype, initial high level performance results, and the first design concept drawings for the Project TE-1 Prototype motorcycle that will be created at the end of the next phase.
- Key project achievements to date – Test results show significant innovation in mass, battery technology, and powertrain performance that exceeds the target set by the UK Automotive Council for 2025, meeting the project’s ambitious objectives to deliver genuine innovation for a new standard in fully usable electric motorcycle performance.
- Project TE-1 is a unique collaboration between four major UK industry and academic leaders – Triumph Motorcycles, Williams Advanced Engineering, Integral Powertrain Ltd.’s e-Drive Division, and WMG at the University of Warwick
- The objective of this two-year project is focused on developing electric motorcycle capabilities – It will provide an input into Triumph’s future electric motorcycle offer, drive innovation, capability and new intellectual property, and enhance the credibility and profile of British industry and design.
- Project TE-1 is funded by the UK Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), and delivered through Innovate UK
“The completion of Phase 2, and the promising results achieved to date, provide an exciting glimpse of the potential electric future and showcase the talent and innovation of this unique British collaboration. Without doubt the outcome of this project will play a significant part in our future efforts to meet our customer’s ambition and desire to reduce their environmental impact and for more sustainable transportation.” said Nick Bloor, Triumph CEO. “This important project will provide one of the foundations for our future electric motorcycle strategy, which is ultimately focused on delivering what riders want from their Triumph; the perfect balance of performance, handling, and real-world usability, with genuine Triumph character.”
PROJECT TE-1 – PHASE 2 OUTCOMES
Battery and powertrain prototype
WILLIAMS ADVANCED ENGINEERING (WAE)
Based on the agreed specification, we identified appropriate cell technology and battery architecture to deliver the performance objectives. Using this as a framework, we then optimized the battery module layout to balance mass and positioning within the prototype chassis, taking into consideration center of gravity, space, and relationship with the powertrain and charging approach.
In addition to the module layout, we have also developed a new and unique vehicle control unit which is integrated into the battery pack to minimize weight and packaging. In parallel, WAE has also created innovative battery management software to ensure power is delivered in relationship to battery performance.
The outcome of Phase 2 for WAE includes a fully bench-tested battery with performance results that exceeds anything else on the market in terms of Power and Energy Density.
“We are delighted to be working on this project, working to deliver next-generation battery technology and control systems. Within the current landscape, most electric motorcycle technology arguably delivers compromised performance at low levels of battery charge. By using a lightweight, compact solution, we have been able to give the rider all of the performance all of the time (regardless of battery charge), and a class leading range. We have focused on pushing the boundaries to reduce mass and optimize frame position to benefit handling. We have also pushed the limits of battery performance, balancing the design for acceleration and range, with simulations modelled on track-based riding. In other words, as aggressive as possible,” said Dyrr Ardash, Senior Commercial Manager, Williams Advanced Engineering. “The energy density of this new battery will be a significant step forward from existing technology giving the rider more power, for longer. WAE has also designed and developed an electronic control unit from the ground-up, combining the battery management system with the bike control functions in one package. This is a first for this market, benefiting packaging and integration while optimizing performance and range.”
INTEGRAL POWERTRAIN LTD.’S E-DRIVE DIVISION
Our experience in cutting edge motor and inverter design and manufacture has helped us to push this technology on to the next level for the TE-1 project. In Phase 1 we worked to integrate the normally separate motor and inverter into one single, compact package. Integration reduces the mass and volume of the drivetrain by reducing additional boxes on the vehicle, mounting features, coolant pipework, and heavy high voltage connections.
The innovative integration concept is also a fully scalable one, whereby the number of power stages can increase for larger diameter, higher torque motors for example. Combined with our state-of-the-art motor technology, we have seen very exciting results already, with the motor achieving a power density twice that of the target set by the UK Automotive Council for 2025.
We have also implemented advanced silicon carbide switch technology in the inverter. This reduces losses in the inverter and results in greater drivetrain efficiency, power delivery, and range. At the end of Phase 2, we are proud to have built a fully operational, new prototype motor that has been bench tested and is delivering on all aspects of performance.
“One of the most influential factors in how well a motorcycle handles and performs is mass, so at Integral Powertrain we have focused heavily on making a step change in motor and inverter design, removing heavy high voltage cables for example. This delivers a product that is significantly more compact and lighter than anything currently available on the market. The motor produces almost 180 horsepower (130kW), but weighs only 22 pounds (10 kg), much lighter than existing technology and clearly a small fraction of the mass of traditional internal combustion engines.” said Andrew Cross, Chief Technical Officer at Integral Powertrain Ltd. “The silicon carbide switch technology in our new scalable integrated inverter will help set new standards in terms of electric motorcycle efficiency; application of this technology means a lighter weight overall with significantly more performance and range. In parallel, we have a very strong focus on design for manufacture and assembly activity, so that all this high motor and inverter performance can be offered cost-effectively. Ultimately, this is really going to be an industry-leading powertrain that will help define the future of electric mobility. With the TE-1 project we are proud to be part of this landmark project for British industry.”
WMG, AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK
At WMG we have been working closely with all the TE-1 partners during Phase 1 and 2 to develop representative models to simulate the systems of the bike including battery, motor, and vehicle control. Initially this allowed us to validate the specification against the intended component selection by assessing performance criteria such as range and top speed with initial models. This has enabled Triumph to carry out software development at an early stage prior to hardware being built with thorough testing programs to ensure that real-life testing can deliver on refinement. Most recently we have been conducting powertrain rig testing using the prototype IPT powertrain to ensure our simulations are accurate and to confirm that the motor functions within the system as intended. We have also been providing guidance to Triumph relating to future legislation, charging infrastructure and recycling strategies that will need to be implemented across future electric motorcycle platforms.
“Our creation of initial computer-based simulation models at the start of Phase 1 has been instrumental in ensuring that the component selection was appropriate to achieve the performance targets defined by the partners for the TE-1 Prototype. We have continued with this work across Phase 2 of the project, refining the models to a much more complex level to allow us and the partners to imitate further components on the bike such as braking, throttle, lighting and other systems and mimic real-world riding to provide development opportunities before components were fully designed. Additionally, we have created a physical rig wired with all the control units, to implement a design validation test program to ensure the function of each section was within the allowable range.” said Truong Quang Dinh, Assistant Professor of Energy Management and Control Systems at WMG, University of Warwick.
Throughout Phase 2 Triumph have developed an all-new advanced vehicle control software which incorporates all the electrical systems to ensure intuitive throttle response, regen braking, traction control and all of the dimensions that a customer would expect from a high-performance Triumph motorcycle. Additionally, we have integrated leading functional safety strategies into this software, plus supported WMG in rig testing and have also fully developed the new prototype instrument display. Alongside this electrical and control system work, we have designed a brand-new prototype chassis including main frame and rear frame which have been optimized alongside the battery and motor packages which will be further evolved in Phase 3 into the TE-1 Prototype which will be used as a mule test platform in Phase 4. During this chassis development we have taken into account both the transmission design and the final styling of the TE-1 Prototype, the drawings of which we are pleased to reveal for the first time today.
Steve Sargent, Triumph’s Chief Product Officer said “The starting point for us in the TE-1 project was to gather important customer feedback about what riders really want from their motorcycles and understand how an electric motorcycle can provide the experience that riders desire. This includes considering the type of riding, range, feel and nature of power and torque delivery together with the ergonomics and bike controls. Taking all this feedback into consideration we began the chassis design, focusing on bringing everything together on the TE-1 Prototype in a way that provides a riding experience that is exciting and new, but ultimately familiar. We have begun to define the powertrain and battery interaction through the use of software refinement to deliver an exhilarating power delivery and throttle response, which provides great control and feels intuitive to the rider. Overall, with the styling we wanted to create something that is fresh and exciting but a natural evolution of the Triumph brand. Something desirable in its own right, with distinctive Triumph DNA and definitely not something that is different just for the sake of being different. Pulling all of this together with the partners we are thrilled to see the progress of such an exciting demonstration vehicle which incorporates the cutting-edge technology needed to guide the strategy for the future roadmap of electric motorcycles from Triumph. The team are proud to be leading such an innovative, strong and dynamic project with a fantastic group of partners which ultimately should set British engineering and design rightly at the forefront of future 2-wheel design.”
PROJECT TE-1 OVERVIEW
Project TE-1 collaboration – Triumph Motorcycles, industry experts, academic leaders, and UK Government
Project Triumph TE-1 is a ground-breaking collaboration between Triumph Motorcycles and the UK’s electrification experts, each of whom is focused on creating innovations in their own areas:
- Triumph Motorcycles is leading the project, providing advanced motorcycle chassis design and engineering expertise, manufacturing excellence and pioneering functional safety systems, as well as defining electric drivetrain power delivery characteristics.
- Williams Advanced Engineering is providing industry-leading lightweight battery design and integration capability, using its test and development facilities to deliver an innovative battery management system combined with vehicle control unit.
- Integral Powertrain Ltd.’s e-Drive Division is leading the development of bespoke power-dense electric motors and a silicon carbide inverter, integrating both into a singular motor housing.
- WMG, at the University of Warwick is providing electrification expertise, and the critical vision to drive innovation from R&D to commercial impact, through modelling and simulation based on future market needs.
- The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) is a team working across government to support the transition to zero emission vehicles, as well as funding to support chargepoint infrastructure across the UK. This will contribute to economic growth and will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution on UK roads. OZEV is part of the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
- Innovate UK is the government’s research and innovation agency that supports business led R&D funding and UK business growth.
A two-year project focused on developing technical innovation and advanced electric motorcycle capabilities
The project is organized into four main phases, with one of its key aims being increased systems integration. By developing individual components of automotive-based electric drivetrains and optimizing them into innovative combined units, the project aims to deliver sophisticated electric motorcycle systems which reduce mass, complexity, and package requirements.
Triumph Motorcycles is working alongside the partner organizations to accelerate joint expertise in the packaging and safety of batteries, optimum electric motor sizing and packaging, the integration of braking systems including regenerative braking, and advanced safety systems. The innovation and capabilities developed in these areas will input into Triumph’s future electric motorcycle strategy.
The Project Triumph TE-1 partnership, with the support of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK, is focused on facilitating the creation of:
- Electric motorcycle capability that meets the needs of customers seeking lower environmental impact transportation, delivering against the UK’s focus on reducing emissions
- Strong, commercially viable, and sustainable partnerships with UK industry manufacturers
and supply chains
- Expertise and capability within the UK workforce, creating jobs and a talent base that both ensures sustainable employment and drives the UK’s reputation and influence on the world stage.
Dr Francesca Iudicello CEng MIMechE – Program Manager – Automotive Zero Emission Vehicles – Innovate UK
“Innovate UK has worked in close partnership with the Office of Zero Emission Vehicles to deliver the integrated delivery program since 2013. This provides funding to ground-breaking innovation in the automotive sectors for zero emission vehicle technologies from proof of concept to vehicle demonstration.
The TE-1 project is a part of this program under the IDP15 competition and is aligned with the road to zero policy and marks an important milestone towards zero emission vehicles and the race to net zero.
We are proud to have delivered the funding for this project which is a pioneering project for the zero-emission vehicle motorcycle manufacturing in the UK as it has successfully developed, thanks to a very talented group of innovators, the very first Triumph electric motorcycle in a very quick development time and prepared the groundwork for the future of electric motorcycles.”
Jon Bray – Research & Development (R&D) Lead – Office for Zero Emission Vehicles
“Investment in Research and Development is key to our mission of putting the UK at the forefront of the design, manufacture, and use of zero emission vehicles. By supporting these technologies, we are helping to deliver our road transport decarbonization goals, while anchoring economic activity across the UK, which will support the green recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
This is why the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles continues to design and fund a series of R&D competitions, which support UK innovation in developing zero emission vehicle and charging infrastructure technologies.
Triumph’s TE-1 project is part of our diverse R&D portfolio of ambitious electrification projects, which are addressing challenges in line with our accelerated phase-out ambitions of petrol and diesel cars and vans and electric vehicle commitments in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan.
We are excited to see that our funding is supporting Triumph Motorcycles in driving forward innovation and capability in the electric motorcycle space, while fostering collaboration between several pioneering UK companies”.
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