F1-inspired bus tech scoops UK innovation accolade

25 November 2014 #SMMT News

A UK-designed, Formula 1-inspired energy recovery system for buses has taken first prize in the prestigious SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation 2014.

Torotrak Group’s Flybrid KERS for buses and commercial vehicles uses a fully mechanical system to store energy from a vehicle’s motion, which can be transferred back to the drive system to power the vehicle. It beat off stiff competition from the Dearman Engine Company and Jaguar Land Rover, both of which received Highly Commended status.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive and a member of the Award judging panel, said, “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.

“It was fantastic to see such a superb calibre of entrants in this year’s Award. SMMT will continue to help the UK build on its position as a global leader for automotive innovation.”

Sponsored by GKN and supported by The Times, the SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation demonstrates the wealth of design and engineering talent in the UK automotive sector by rewarding the most groundbreaking concepts each year. The Award started in 2010, and Torotrak Group follows in the footsteps of Gordon Murray Design, Jaguar Land Rover, Optare and Ford in winning the accolade.

The Award was presented to Jon Hilton, Torotrak’s Product Development and Sales Director, by Nigel Stein, GKN Chief Executive, at the 2014 SMMT Annual Dinner on 25 November.

Jeremy Deering, Chief Executive Officer, Torotrak, said, “Our system will be around one quarter the cost of a conventional battery electric hybrid as well as substantially smaller and around a quarter the weight.

“Third party validated test results have been achieved with a thoroughly modern, lightweight, 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.

Nigel Stein, GKN Chief Executive, said, “Congratulations to Torotrak.  Any automotive innovation that can improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions deserves particular focus, and it is great to see British companies driving this forward.”

To win the Award, Torotrak had to get through a judging session at the hands of some of the most influential experts in the UK automotive sector. The panel featured: Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, SMMT; Dave Salt, Chief Engineer, GKN Driveline; Robert Lea, Industrial Editor, The Times and Jim Higginbotham, Managing Director, Large Corporate and Special Asset Finance, Lombard.

To watch a video featuring the final three, and to find out more about the SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation, click here.

SMMT Award for Automotive Innovation 2014 shortlisted entries:

  • WINNER: Torotrak Group – Flybrid KERS for bus applications  
    Formula 1-inspired fully mechanical energy recovery system to improve efficiency in buses.
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Dearman Engine Company – The Dearman Engine
    Liquid air technology for efficient transport and cooling systems.
  • HIGHLY COMMENDED: Jaguar Land Rover – Ingenium Engine
    New family of compact, lightweight, low-emissions diesel and petrol engines.
  • Automotive Insulations – Xlite
    An advanced range of sound-deadening materials for electric and lightweight vehicles.
  • Carrier Transicold – NaturaLINE
    Use of CO2 in a transport refrigeration system, adapted from sea containers, and being pioneered in a trial with Sainsbury’s.
  • Vocis Ltd – OGeco
    Hybrid automated manual transmission using an electric motor to deliver extra power, smoothness and efficiency.

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