The standard BRP Can-Am Spyder Roadster itself is quite an unusual vehicle. There's only a handful of production tricycles on the market, and it's one of them. But when you add in a high-performance hybrid drivetrain, some additional aerodynamic bodywork (clear wheel covers), and a fancy paintjob, it becomes an even stranger vehicle.
The BRP Can-Am Spyder Hybrid project isn't cheap though. It's being jointly funded by the Automotive Partnership Canada program and Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP). The BRP / Université de Sherbrooke Advanced Technology Centre (CTA), a research and development facility in partnership with the University of Sherbrooke, has received $11.3 million (Canadian) in financial support to develop new hybrid engine technology for BRP's Can-Am Spyder roadster.
The Can-Am Spyder Hybrid project is being led by Professor Alain Desrochers from the Universite de Sherbrooke's Mechanical Engineering Department and includes about 30 people from both the University and BRP. The team will need to use original and creative engineering solutions during the development of the new drivetrain. The vehicle's compact size alone brings up unique challenges. Rather than modifying existing hybrid technology, the researchers will have to design an entirely new propulsion system.
"Creating a three-wheel vehicle as opposed to a hybrid car poses significant design challenges that require a very high degree of innovation," said professor Desrochers. "These challenges include the lack of space to accommodate hybrid motorization, cooling problems, aerodynamics, vehicle weight, and noise. Everything must be studied and modified."
Due for completion sometime in 2014, the BRP Can-Am Spyder Hybrid project will need to pass several tests covering performance, reliability, durability, and economic mass production viability. It's highly possible that whatever hybrid technology is developed through the program, it'll make it into a variety of production vehicles in the future.