Why Did Someone Put An Engine In A Tesla Model 3?

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The benefits are far greater than you might think.

Telsa has never built a car with an internal combustion engine. The company, as well as its rabid fanbase, are diametrically opposed to them. So why did an Austrian company called Obrist Powertrain take the time to stick a small gasoline engine under the front trunk of a Tesla Model 3?

The idea might seem a bit counterintuitive at first, but it is based on a previous Obrist concept called the HyperHybrid powertrain. It is the brainchild of company owner Frank Obrist, who believes the HyperHybrid can outperform a pure electric vehicle.

The HyperHybrid system was put into use in a Tesla Model 3, which is now called the Obrist Mark II. The previous Obrist Mark I was based on the Chinese Geely EC7 (seen below).

Obrist Powertrain
Obrist Powertrain
Obrist Powertrain

To create the Obrist Mark II, the company installed a small two-cylinder engine called the "Zero Vibration Generator," which produces 54 horsepower and weighs only 209 pounds. Like the engine in a BMW i3 or Chevrolet Volt, the Zero Vibration Generator charges the battery, working as a range extender, but does not drive the car. It order to cool the engine, Obrist had to add a grille to the Model 3, which we think makes the car looked pretty stylish, almost like a Porsche 718 Cayman. Obrist also developed a smaller 17.3-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which is cheaper than the one found in the base Model 3.

Obrist claims the Mark II can travel just 62 miles on electric range alone, which may sound like a disappointing result. But when the Zero Vibration Generator is running, the car can travel 621 miles with a full tank of fuel. That is nearly double that you'd get out of even the highest-range Model 3.

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So what the heck was the point of stuffing an engine into a Model 3? Well, the range benefits are immediately apparent, as no current electric car can come close to a 600-mile driving range on a charge. And with the smaller battery pack, Obrist says the Mark II would actually be cheaper to produce than a standard Tesla Model 3.

Frank Obrist told Edison that his company signed a first license agreement with a "prominent international market player" back in October 2019 and that a second licensing agreement will be signed "shortly," per the announcement. The company expects its first HyperHybrid vehicle to be available by 2023.

2017-2019 Tesla Model 3 Front View Driving Tesla
2017-2019 Tesla Model 3 Side View Driving Tesla

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