Despite the recent advent of usable, talented electric vehicles, combustion engines are likely to persist for quite some time, often as a component in plug-in hybrid and range-extended electric vehicles. The onus then is on refining combustion power to work harmoniously with increasingly electrified vehicles — and Toyota’s new Free Piston Engine Linear Generator could be one solution. The idea of a linear engine is nothing new – engineers and research departments have been developing them for years.
Electric vehicles have come a long way in recent years, but even the premium-priced Tesla cars are short on range compared to good old internal combustion. Gasoline is probably going to remain part of our transportation makeup into the foreseeable future, even if only as a component in hybrid vehicles. However, we can still refine internal combustion to make more sense in a hybrid, which is exactly what Toyota is doing with its new Free Piston Engine Linear Generator (FPEG). Linear engines have been in development for a few years, but Toyota’s version is the first one that might be viable in a real vehicle. Linear engines lack the rotating crankshaft of traditional internal combustion. Instead, there is one larger chamber where the burning fuel pushes a single piston back and forth. A regularcar uses pistons to transfer energy to the wheels, but the FPEG is used for generating electricity directly.