Infinitely variable transmission system under development
17 March 2009

High-tech transmission specialist Torotrak is working with Jaguar Land Rover on a mechanical hybrid system that involves a small infinitely variable transmission (IVT) coupled with a tiny flywheel, the Lancashire-based company announced today.

The IVT and the tiny flywheel combine to make what is essentially a similar system to the KERS technology fitted to the 2009 crop of F1 contenders.

As the car brakes, the energy that goes through the IVT is used to spin the flywheel at up to 64,000rpm. When the car accelerates again, that stored kinetic energy is discharged, providing a boost in power and increased energy efficiency.

Torotrak has also received a financial boost this week. It has signed a deal with US transmission giant Allison, securing a large cash injection.

Allison, which specialises in heavy-duty commercial vehicle transmissions, has taken a 10 per cent stake in Torotak, meaning an immediate injection of £7.1m for the British company.

The deal also involves Allison licensing Torotrak’s innovative Toroidal CVT technology, which uses discs and rollers rather than meshing gears, the greater efficiency of which can mean a fuel efficiency gain of up to 20 per cent over more conventional transmissions.

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Torotrak’s CVT transmission isn’t yet commercially available on any passenger cars, but is on sale in some US-market ride-on lawnmowers.

Matt Rigby

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