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Business Excellence Member News: Torotrak wins SMMT Award

The 2014 SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation has been won by Torotrak plc for its Flybrid mechanical flywheel hybrid system. The award, supported by GKN and The Times, recognises UK-developed automotive technologies that have ‘the potential to leave a lasting impression on the whole automotive industry for years to come’… Read more

Torotrak’s technology joins a long list of prestigious winners that include Ford for its heavily downsized 1-litre Ecoboost engine (2013), Optare for its Versa E bus (2012), Jaguar Land Rover’s Range_e (2011) and Gordon Murray Design’s iStream (2010).

“It was fantastic to see such a superb calibre of entrants in this year’s Award,” says SMMT Chief Executive and member of the judging panel, Mike Hawes. “The UK is one of the world’s leaders in automotive engineering and R&D, a fact epitomised by Torotrak’s Flybrid KERS. Not only a genuinely innovative concept, it is also in an advanced stage of development with huge potential to influence the wider automotive sector.”

Torotrak’s Award focuses on the application of its mechanical hybrid technology to urban buses and commercial vehicles. The system captures kinetic energy as the bus slows down and transfers it to a flywheel that spins at up to 60,000 rpm. The energy flow is reversed during acceleration, to reduce load on the diesel engine; saving fuel and reducing emissions. The technology is purely mechanical, with no costly high-voltage batteries and without the inefficiency of converting energy from mechanical / kinetic to electrical and back. Because it is completely mechanical, the flywheel system also provides full depth of discharge throughout the vehicle’s life, and has only basic servicing requirements, similar to the main drive transmission. This helps to offer a low cost of ownership, and also maintain the vehicle’s residual value.

“Our system will be around one quarter the cost of a conventional battery electric hybrid as well as substantially smaller and around a quarter of the weight,” says Torotrak chief executive officer Jeremy Deering. “Third party validated test results have been achieved with a thoroughly modern, light-weight, high efficiency vehicle from Wrightbus, indicating ongoing opportunities to provide the sector with a low-cost route to reduced emissions and substantially lower operating costs.”

“Winning such a prestigious award shows that there is real faith in the commercial potential of our purely-mechanical hybridisation system for heavy vehicle applications, and that by making hybridisation more accessible and affordable, we can make a real impact on fleet emissions and running costs,” continued Deering. “We hope that this will raise awareness of our technology, and help us expand our reach more firmly into international markets.”

Torotrak is also working on Flybrid evaluation and development programmes with a number of European passenger car manufacturers, and also an off highway machinery OEM.

Read more about the awards on the SMMT website.

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