Torotrak wins £200,000 funding for V-Charge project

Torotrak wins £200,000 funding for V-Charge project 

Support from Technology Strategy Board helps fund production-intent development of fuel-saving technology

Leyland, 8 April 2014 – Torotrak PLC (LSE: TRK) has been awarded a grant of £205,000 under the Technology Strategy Board’s Smart scheme to develop an application specific, production intent version of its V-Charge With additional support from a major OEM and a Tier One supplier, Torotrak will work in partnership with the University of Bath Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre to optimise the technology around a state-of-the-art production engine.

“The opportunity to fully exploit the potential of V-Charge by manipulating various engine parameters, such as valve timing, injection modes, and exhaust gas recirculation means we can develop the optimum production-feasible installation for a homologated vehicle,” explained Torotrak’s product director, Andrew De Freitas. “This allows us to evolve a purpose-made unit that brings the technology much closer to market than previous proof-of-concept hardware.”

V-Charge overcomes the main barrier to engine downsizing by providing near instant response at any engine speed, through the use of a supercharger with a mechanical variable speed drive that endows a small engine with the performance feel of a larger, naturally aspirated unit. This ability allows the boosting of smaller engines across their full operating range with a single V-Charge device, unlike an electric supercharger that would require the addition of a turbocharger to achieve the same spread of performance.

To optimise V-Charge for the intended application, extensive modelling and validation will be carried out by the University of Bath using simulation based on models from the supporting OEM. As the variable drive is scalable for different power requirements and the ratio spread can be adjusted to suit the application, a purpose-designed unit will be developed and multiple prototypes produced.

One system will allow assessment and demonstration in a ‘baseline’ vehicle, while another is intended for evaluation in a larger vehicle, where current boosting technologies struggle to provide acceptable performance. Delivering the driver feel of a much larger, more powerful engine in this context would be considered a breakthrough and could set new industry standards for truly driveable downsized engines.

Tata steel, a long term supporter of Torotrak’s variable traction drive technology, will display a V-Charge unit at the forthcoming Dusseldorf Trade Fair (7-11 April). The technology is highly topical with the recent announcement by the prestigious JD Power survey that customer satisfaction ratings actually fell from 2013 to 2014, as a result of issues relating to downsized engines, reversing an established trend. [Full text here:]

“The automotive industry is meeting increasingly demanding CO2 emissions targets by reducing engine capacity, while adding turbocharging to maintain vehicle performance,” explained Jeremy Deering, Torotrak’s Chief Executive. “However, as the JD Power survey shows, drivers are often disappointed by the feel of the car, which can seem unresponsive because of turbo lag hampering the low-speed driveability. V-Charge overcomes this issue and the funding awarded by the Technology Strategy Board helps bring the technology to market readiness, where it can benefit the everyday user.”


Torotrak is the global innovator in gearless traction drive technology that increases efficiency and reduces CO2 emissions in vehicles. The variable-drive technology is being developed for main drive transmissions, superchargers, and engine auxiliary applications, substantially improving fuel economy. Following the acquisition of Flybrid Automotive Ltd in 2014, the company’s flywheel technology portfolio includes a range of highly efficient, lightweight and low cost flywheel Energy Recovery Systems. The company has shown how its technologies can reduce CO2 emissions, conserve energy, save costs and significantly boost efficiency. Customers include major vehicle manufacturers across road cars, buses, commercial vehicles, off-highway, and their tier-one technology suppliers, with several programmes now evaluating production-ready designs. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: TRK).