We haven’t heard … anything … about Triumph’s electric motorcycle project for months. The Triumph TE-01 project isn’t dead, though—not even pining for the fjords of Norway! We’ve just had an update from Triumph, about the status of the TE-01, and while we’re still going to have to wait a while for the finished product, the engineers have indeed made considerable progress. Phase 2 of this four-phase project is now complete.
What was completed in Phase 2?
The second phase of the project was aimed at taking the UK Automotive Council’s targets for electric motorcycles (mass, battery technology, and powertrain performance), and designing a practical bike that fits into those parameters.
Phase 2 of the TE-01 project was a collaboration between Triumph Motorcycles and outside help. Along with the wonks from Hinkley, Phase 2 also involved input from Williams Advanced Engineering, Integral Powertrain Ltd.’s e-Drive Division, and WMG at the University of Warwick. It was funded through Innovate UK, with the money ultimately coming from the British government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), which helps Triumph keep costs in line.
Individually, here’s what those partners worked on:
Williams Advanced Engineering: Williams Advanced Engineering worked on a battery design to meet the performance objectives. The press release says: “Using this as a framework, we then optimized the battery module layout to balance mass and positioning within the prototype chassis, taking into consideration center of gravity, space, and relationship with the powertrain and charging approach.” Translation: They built a battery with output that matched the specs needed, and then designed it to fit efficiently into a motorcycle chassis.
Williams Advanced Engineering also developed a vehicle control unit, which is integrated into the battery pack. This is designed to be unique to the TE-01, not an off-the-shelf product ordered from a catalogue.
The result? “The outcome of Phase 2 for WAE includes a fully bench-tested battery with performance results that exceeds anything else on the market in terms of Power and Energy Density,” says the presser.
Integral Powertrain Ltd.’s e-Drive Division: Integral Powertrain developed a new motor and inverter for the Triumph TE-01. In Phase 1, the e-Drive division designed a prototype that integrated both the motor and inverter into a single package (could this be the modern-day counterpart of unit construction?). The engineers say this doesn’t just reduce mass and volume—it also simplifies the chassis, making for fewer mounting points, less coolant pipework, and reduced high-voltage connections.
The designers also reduced internal inverter energy losses, with advanced silicon carbide switch technology. This makes for better efficiency and power delivery, and in the long run, that makes for longer range.
Integral Powertrain says this design is fully scalable, usable for motors with higher torque output. The company also says its design has twice the power density that the UK Automotive Council’s 2025 specs are calling for.
After working on that design in Phase 1, Integral Powertrain built a functioning prototype motor in Phase 2. Andrew Cross, the company’s chief technical officer, says the new engine is “significantly more compact and lighter than anything currently available on the market. The motor produces almost 180 horsepower (130kW), but weighs only 22 pounds (10 kg), much lighter than existing technology and clearly a small fraction of the mass of traditional internal combustion engines …
“We have a very strong focus on design for manufacture and assembly activity, so that all this high motor and inverter performance can be offered cost-effectively. Ultimately, this is really going to be an industry-leading powertrain that will help define the future of electric mobility.”
WMG/University of Warwick: The university worked on computer models, which simulate performance of the bike’s battery, motor, and controller. This helped the researchers validate the specs on those components, seeing if they would perform as predicted. While physical testing would be the ultimate judge of those components’ performance, this pre-production simulation gave the scientists data that could be passed on to Triumph. In turn, Triumph’s own in-house engineers used this data to develop software that would be better-matched to the hardware, when it showed up in-house. This speeds up the development process.
This work started in Phase 1 of the project, and moves forward with new physical test models, says Truong Quang Dinh, Assistant Professor of Energy Management and Control Systems at WMG, University of Warwick. “We have continued with this work across Phase 2 of the project, refining the models to a much more complex level to allow us and the partners to imitate further components on the bike such as braking, throttle, lighting and other systems and mimic real-world riding to provide development opportunities before components were fully designed.”
Triumph Motorcycles: While its partners were focusing on developing new battery and drivetrain tech, and modeling its performance, Triumph’s own engineers were working on vehicle control software. This is where the data from the university research staff would have been particularly useful, with no in-house physical models to start with. Again, this technology is all-new, not off-the-shelf coding purchased from a third party. The new software will deliver “intuitive throttle response, regen braking, traction control and all of the dimensions that a customer would expect from a high-performance Triumph motorcycle.“
Triumph is also working on helping its university partners with rig testing, and developing a prototype instrument display. The in-house engineers also designed a new prototype chassis to house the battery and motor; through Phase 3, the company will continue development here.
“Pulling all of this together with the partners we are thrilled to see the progress of such an exciting demonstration vehicle which incorporates the cutting-edge technology needed to guide the strategy for the future roadmap of electric motorcycles from Triumph,” said Steve Sargent, Triumph’s chief product officer. “The team are proud to be leading such an innovative, strong and dynamic project with a fantastic group of partners which ultimately should set British engineering and design rightly at the forefront of future 2-wheel design.”
Triumph appears to have moved past the initial design of drivetrain and chassis. Throughout Phase 3, we’d expect them to perfect that package, and continue to develop the software controls. Perhaps we’ll see a usable prototype at the end of the next phase, with a production-ready bike at the end of Phase 4?