Torotrak previews first variable supercharger installation in a passenger car

Continued progress in applications of Torotrak technology in engine downsizing, flywheel hybrids and commercial vehicle transmissions

Leyland, UK, 29 July 2011, Torotrak plc (LSE: TRK), the gearless transmission company, today revealed “Rotrak-1” at its annual general meeting, closing a year of substantial commercial and technical progress. This is the third prototype vehicle with Torotrak technology displayed in the last year, following Jaguar’s exhibition of a flywheel-CVT hybrid engineering development vehicle in September and Tata Motors’ presentation of the Pixel “Zero Turn” city car concept in March.

Torotrak’s new chairman John Weston, former CEO of British Aerospace, who joined the Company in June said: “The Rotrak variable supercharger is a good example of Torotrak’s focus on delivering solutions to reduce CO2 emissions. Vehicle manufacturers need affordable solutions to improve fleet vehicle efficiency, and Torotrak’s patented variable drive unit coupled with Rotrex’s supercharger provides an elegant but simple solution to both improve performance and reduce cost in downsizing solutions.”

Commenting on the company’s sharpened focus, Torotrak chief executive Dick Elsy said: “Tata Motors’ presentation of the Pixel at the Geneva Motor Show, Jaguar’s agreement to show the FHSPV flywheel hybrid development vehicle publicly and the unveiling of the Rotrak-1 prototype all demonstrate how our collaboration with major licensees and development partners is driving the commercialisation of Torotrak’s technologies.”

Torotrak technology allows manufacturers to deliver smaller, more fuel efficient engines without compromises, hybrid drivetrains without the bulk and cost of battery packs, automatic transmissions that reduce fuel consumption for commercial vehicles, and more efficient and manoeuvrable small cars. .

The company’s named customers and development partners include: Jaguar Land-Rover, Volvo Cars Corporation, Tata Motors, Allison Transmission Inc, SKF, Ricardo, Prodrive, bus maker Optare, Flybrid Systems. Torotrak also works with a number of unnamed vehicle manufacturers and Tier One suppliers.

Rotrak-1 will demonstrate the variable supercharger system’s performance to Torotrak customers in the coming months, using a 1.2-litre Renault Clio weighted with 250kg of additional mass to reflect a larger vehicle category. The car will show how the variable supercharger can enable vehicle manufacturers to offer big car feel and driveability with small car fuel economy. The integration of a Torotrak variable traction drive enables the engine to offer achieve higher efficiency and very quick time-to-boost, allowing it to provide greater low-speed response that will enable further engine downsizing and CO2 reduction.

Operational highlights 

  • July 2011, Torotrak presents first installation of Rotrak variable supercharger in an engineering prototype
  • June 2011, Volvo confirmed that it was working on a flywheel hybrid system that uses a Torotrak CVT to control the flow of energy in and out of the flywheel.
  • May 2011, Torotrak named former BAE Systems CEO John Weston as the company’s new chairman.
  • April 2011, multinational commercial vehicle transmission manufacturer Allison Transmission Inc committed to the commencement of a production-intent design
  • March 2011, Tata Motors presented a concept that uses Torotrak’s technology to create a car for crowded cities that uses independent control of the driven wheels to turn the vehicle almost within its own length.
  • February 2011, organisational restructuring reduced Torotrak’s board of director salary costs by around a third and produced a new engineering and commercial delivery structure better aligned to customers and partners.
  • January 2011, Torotrak successfully installed transmission in prototypes for two commercial vehicle sector customers.
  • December 2010, testing of Rotrak prototype began, less than six months after the signing of the agreement with Rotrex.
  • November 2010, Torotrak wins Investor Relations Society award.
  • November 2010, The Torotrak-led Flybus consortium, developing a flywheel hybrid system for buses, won the UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Technology Challenge.
  • September 2010, Torotrak presented the Flywheel Hybrid System for Premium Vehicles to the public in September 2010 along with its consortium partners Jaguar, Prodrive and Flybrid.

About Rotrak

Rotrak is a joint venture that combines a Rotrex supercharger with a Torotrak variable traction drive to produce a mechanical supercharger system that overcomes the problems inherent in conventional supercharger and turbocharger systems.

With a turbo, the delay in response, called lag, becomes increasingly intrusive as engines get smaller. Superchargers are mechanically geared to enhance performance at either low or high engine speeds. Rotrak overcomes this by connecting the supercharger to the engine by a compact variable drive, allowing efficient operation across the whole engine speed range.

About Torotrak

Torotrak is the global innovator in gearless traction drive technology which increases efficiency and reduces CO2 emissions in vehicles. The company’s variable-drive technology is also being developed for superchargers, engine auxiliary applications and enables energy to be recovered efficiently through flywheels, substantially improving fuel economy.

Torotrak is taking gearless traction drive technology from the test track to the road, putting its proven innovations into mass-production. The company has shown how its transmission technology can reduce CO2 emissions, conserve energy, save costs and significantly boost efficiency.

The company’s engineers deliver world-class technology to its customers that include major vehicle manufacturers and tier-one suppliers. Development has led to customers working on production-ready designs for mass production. The company is fully listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: TRK).