Toyota has designed a new race car with more power, less weight and lower emissions. The TS040 Hybrid uses the most advanced technology in modern racing to improve efficiency and performance.

Instead of batteries, the new race car has a supercapacitor – a small device that holds energy for a short time and delivers a huge burst of power.

Prototype

The new hybrid vehicle recently took to the track in the world’s oldest endurance race, the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France the race combines sportsmanship, challenging conditions and the latest car technologies.

Fuel efficiency is a key component of Le Mans rules and for the 2014 season, teams were required to use 25% less fuel than in 2013. Savings were achieved through changes to powertrains, aerodynamics and driving style.

Toyota’s new racer was designed to boost fuel economy by improving the aerodynamics of the vehicle, by implementing advanced composite design and production processes. The car has four-wheel drive and is constructed from carbon fibre and aluminium, with independent suspensions.

Fast charge

Many cars have traditionally been powered by lithium-ion batteries but the TS040 is powered by a supercapacitor, which has ten times the power density of lithium-ion batteries. The vehicle is designed to recharge when the car is decelerating or braking.

The TS040 produces a total of 998 horsepower (hp) with the 3.7l petrol V8 engine developing 513hp. An additional 475hp is available from the two electric motors connected to the capacitor.

You don’t have to be racing at Le Mans to get the latest technology. The Yaris Hybrid-R uses a supercapacitor to provide quick bursts of power. Toyota recently teamed up with BMW to produce a hybrid all-wheel-drive Z4, complete with similar technology for increased performance.

Electric vehicles

Supercapacitors could be the key to greener public transportation. The technology is already being used for hybrid buses and electric trains in Europe and China, and show signs of promising results. It’s believed that the supercapacitors will have a lifespan of ten years per capacitor-powered trams are also expected to begin operation in Guangzhou, China later this year. They can be recharged in as little as 30 seconds whilst the tram is stationary, with power for the tram to run for up to 4km until it can be charged again.

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