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Triumph shock! Brit firm announce TE-1 electric motorbike collaboration project

Published: 15 May 2019

Updated: 15 May 2019

Triumph have announced a ground-breaking plan to accelerate the addition of electric motorcycles to the range in collaboration with other key UK innovators, including Williams Advanced Engineering.

The project, dubbed TE-1, will target the rapid evolution of powertrain solutions over the next two years, with a view to developing a light, compact battery-powered drive unit that will power a new generation of Triumph motorcycles.

While TE-1 might sound like a bike model, Triumph have confirmed to MCN that this project is focused on battery technology, motors and the packaging constraints that currently hinder electric motorcycles – not building a specific single model.

The tie-in with F1 legends, Williams, is key to the project’s success, with the firm able to provide industry-leading lightweight battery design and integration capabilities. Other partners include motor and inverter experts, Integral Powertrain, the electric specialist team at the University of Warwick – WMG – and government funding via the Innovate UK science and technology agency. 

Triumph's Nick Bloor speaks exclusively to MCN

"This new collaboration represents an exciting opportunity for Triumph and its partners to be leaders in the technology that will enable the electrification of motorcycles," said Triumph CEO, Nick Bloor, "which is driven by customers striving to reduce their environmental impact, combined with the desire for more economical transportation, and changing legislation. Project Triumph TE-1 is one part of our electric motorcycle strategy, focused on delivering what riders want and expect from their Triumph, which is the perfect balance of handling, performance and usability."

And therein lies the crux of the project’s importance to Triumph. This isn’t a project aimed at rushing a wildly expensive, or under-performing electric bike into the marketplace in order to tick a box. Triumph are determined that customers will be able to make like-for-like decisions about which bike to buy regardless of the powertrain. In the future this could mean having the choice of a petrol or electric Street Triple – with no overt compromise to either choice.

Steve Sargent, Triumph’s Chief Product Officer added "Our future product strategy is focused on delivering the most suitable engine platforms for the changing landscape of customer needs, and we see a Triumph electric powertrain as a significant requirement alongside our signature twin and triple cylinder engines. Project Triumph TE-1 represents an exciting collaboration that will provide valuable input into our future line-up.

Imagine an electric Triumph Speed Triple...

Imagine an electric Speed Triple...

"We are incredibly pleased to have the support of OLEV and Innovate UK, and to be working together with the UK’s electrification experts and academic leaders, in an endeavour that ultimately is focused on the future prosperity of British industry, and the future of motorcycling."

While the project will aim to lead to model development, this is still several years in the future, with this first phase aiming to deliver powertrain solutions in two years’ time, ahead of any specific model development starting in earnest.

One key aim is increased systems integration, developing individual components of automotive-based electric drivetrains and optimising them for motorcycle systems which reduce mass, complexity and packaging requirements.

Triumph have become the masters of packaging in recent years, and will work alongside the partners to accelerate the 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 team at Williams Advanced Engineering is looking forward to applying our expertise in the electrification of transport with our partners," said Craig Wilson, Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering.  "Williams has powered a number of world-renowned electric vehicles already and this will be a significant further step in our work by taking that knowledge onto two wheels."

"We are extremely pleased to be supporting Triumph Motorcycles with their future electrification strategy and in a project where we can apply our experience to engineer an extremely power dense, efficient and highly integrated motorcycle electric drive," added Andrew Cross, Chief Technical Officer at Integral Powertrain Ltd.

"Electric motorcycles will have a vital role to play in future transport across the globe - delivering reduced congestion and improved urban air quality as well as easing parking," added Professor David Greenwood, Professor, Advanced Propulsion Systems at WMG, University of Warwick. "They will also be great to ride, with copious, easily controlled torque delivered smoothly at all road speeds."

The Triumph TE-1 electric motorcycle project: who does what?

  • Triumph will lead the project with their chassis design and packaging expertise and manufacturing infrastructure
  • Williams Advanced Engineering will look after the lightweight battery design and its integration with the project, including a control unit that links to the bike's main wiring system
  • Integral Powertrain Ltd's e-Drive Division will take care of the electric motor and invertor, which will be housed in a single casing
  • WMG, at the University of Warwick, are going to lead the innovation required to get the project from R&D through to a finished product by simulating future market requirements
  • Innovate UK will support partners and administer funds on behalf of the Government with the aim of making the UK a market leader in electric vehicle technology

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