Expect to read that Torotrak plc has taken up its option to purchase the outstanding share stock of Flybrid Automotive Ltd.
Flybrid Automotive Limited is a privately-owned award winning, innovative engineering company at the forefront of low carbon vehicle technology. Based in Silverstone, the company's core product is a high-speed flywheel based Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), which is described as a superior alternative to electric hybrid systems for cars.
The move secures Flybrid range of patents, protecting them from predatory competitors. It also puts a halt on any other company making a bid for the shares. This is particularly important as Torotrak and Flybrid have built up a close working relationship, both in terms of technology and from a personnel point of view.
The link-up has further importance. The directors of Flybrid Automotive are now assured of further long-term funding to develop the range of technologies they initiated. This not only includes the flywheel-based KERS but also the cogged clutch technology which could be a cheaper alternative for some applications to the toroidal continuously variable transmissions (CVT) that Torotrak has been working on for some many years.Torotrak’s funding could help to speed up the process of bringing Flybrid’s technology to the market-place. Flybrid could also benefit from Torotrak's extensive patenting know-how and its plans for further extending its manufacturing base. As to whether there is a merger of facilities remains to be seen. Flybrid, however, is based adjacent to Silverstone and the local area of active F1 motor racing fraternity; motor sport is an area which has shown keen interest in Flybrid's technology.
It was only in March of this year that Torotrak acquired a 20% stake in Flybrid Automotive Ltd (formerly Flybrid Systems LLP) with an option to acquire the remaining shares before the end of the calendar year.
At the time, Torotrak said the transaction strengthened Torotrak’s ability to provide turnkey development and manufacture of complete flywheel hybrid systems for buses, trucks, passenger cars, commercial and off-highway vehicles. The company expected the deal would accelerate the adoption of its technology, which it said would be in fleet trials with bus operators “later this year” through an agreement with bus constructor Wrightbus.
It is known that Flybrid Automotive has been working closely with JaguarLandRover and Volvo, as well as a number of other un-named companies.
Flybrid Automotive, a UK company owned by its founders Jon Hilton and Doug Cross, already has a successful long-term relationship with Torotrak, which uses Flybrid’s proven flywheel module in its Mechanical Kinetic Energy Recovery System (M-KERS).
Widely considered to be the world-leader in flywheel hybrid technologies, which can recover up to 70% of braking energy for around a third the cost of battery electric hybrids, Flybrid has evaluation or development programmes with a wide range of vehicle manufacturers worldwide.
Through the purchase of the remaining 80 per cent shareholding, Torotrak is also assured that, as part of the deal, it has the full-hearted support of the founders of Flybrid Automotive for a number of years to come; the two founders will be keen to see their technologies given much wider acceptance. Torotrak has already built up a rapport with a number of international companies and these could prove a valuable opportunity for Flybrid technologies.■
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