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Not a Mazda, But This Rotary Engine Solution Might Help Power Your EV Motorhome

A concept motorhome by Knaus Tabbert uses a system they call E.Power Drive, and while this vehicle is based on a standard Fiat motorhome, a secret and perhaps revolutionary system is stowed beneath the van.
Knaus Tabbert rotary solution 11 photos
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Knaus Tabbert says this electric vehicle includes a Wankel rotary range-extender. The German RV giant prototype replaces the standard diesel in many motorhomes for an EV powertrain, but here’s the truly novel innovation in the system; it’s supported by a rotary engine generator which functions as a power source while set up in the campground. Knaus Tabbert says the system could provide a week of power to provide output for heating, cooking, accessories and lighting.

The redesign was aided by motorsport engineering firm HWA AG which helped overhaul the mechanicals of the Fiat Ducato they used as a starting point.

The pair began with the Knaus Van Ti 650 MEG Vansation, a Class C motorhome. The standard diesel engine and its six-speed manual transmission were swapped out for a 241 hp electric motor and a reduction gearbox.

One problem was that this fresh EV motor has but a 35-kilowatt battery which can operate for just 56 miles (90 km) of range on a single charge.

But that’s where the Wankel comes in. A mounted generator is powered by the rotary engine which charges the battery to boost the vehicle’s range. This arrangement kicks in automatically as soon as the battery charge falls into a critical level, and it can power the motor directly - and recharge the battery.

Knaus says they chose the rotary engine configuration rather than a conventional piston engine as the rotary is more efficient at optimal rpm range, is more compact, contains fewer parts and is smoother and quieter when in operation.

It’s this quiet operation that proves attractive once the E.Power Knaus is parked for use. The system supplies electricity to the living areas of the motorhome via an inverter to help do away with outside power sources or bulky LPG tanks.

According to Knaus, this rotary engine provides auxiliary power for up to five days, and that would be ideal for off-grid camping trips. Though Knaus hasn’t specified which fuel they’re using, but says the 35-kWh battery takes just three hours to recharge.

Knaus adds that the idea could easiy be powered by a diesel or gas engine, but the company says  that ultimately they want to swap in a hydrogen fuel cell to supply power and cut down on emissions.

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