Monday 7 July 2014

OEMs have learnt “to play the game” – Torotrak

What is the biggest challenge facing the automotive industry?

The big issue challenging all vehicle manufacturers is the next step in emissions regulations, claims Jeremy Deering, chief executive officer of Torotrak Group.

“Every stage has been difficult but the next one adds a further challenge, adds Deering.

“So far, the target numbers have come down but the archaic test procedures have remained the same. Vehicle manufactures have learnt how to play this game, leading to an increasing gap between on-paper fuel consumption (and therefore CO2 emissions) and that achieved by their customers driving the cars in the real world,” said Deering.

“With the introduction of the World-wide harmonised Light duty vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and the EU looking closely at an even bigger step towards real-world testing, vehicle manufacturers and their technology partners will have a double gap to close: meet the new emissions targets, and do it with dramatically less opportunity for clever manipulation of the test procedures,” he added.

“That's what is going to drive the need for some exciting new technologies that work in real world driving. And that means real emissions reduction and not just numbers in a sales brochure.  That's the exciting challenge where Torotrak is now focused.”

                                    Stop the merry-go-round

And the biggest challenge in your job today?

“It's about stopping the merry-go-round between a car company that wants our technology and a manufacturer that wants to make it. It is about finding the one with the vision and the guts to make the decision to get on with it,” said Deering. 

“We are doing everything we can to cut that frustrating time gap down and trying to find new ways to instil a catalyst for quicker decisions,” he added.  “However, the strongest catalyst is the new CO2 and fuel economy regulations that are driving manufacturers towards taking those decisions. If they don't, they face the real possibility of braver competitors stealing a march with new technologies.”

(Below: Deering trying to put an end to the merry-go-round) 

What do you see as the next breakthrough technology?

“As an innovation supplier, you'd expect me to say it will be one of Torotrak's fuel saving technologies and I do believe we will be part of the next technical leap,” said Deering.  “Realistically, there will not be one ‘next breakthrough' but many, and they will work together to create more than the sum of their parts. For example, there is a lot of potential remaining in engine downsizing, but delivering this while continuing to provide safe and enjoyable driving characteristics will be an increasing challenge.”

“Similarly with hybrids: energy recovery is vital, but batteries are expensive, heavy and environmentally questionable. Torotrak's mechanical flywheel MKERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology can help solve both of these challenges. It will have its first outing on a UK WrightBus vehicle this year. It's great to see the Volvo flywheel KERS demonstrator vehicle, which uses our Flybrid KERS technology to provide energy recovery and a big performance boost,  so well received by the Press.

Flybrid Automotive Systems of Silverstone, which developed MKERS, is part of Torotrak Group.

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