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Jaguar-Land Rover to develop F1-style energy recovery tech

Motorsport concept to filter down to road cars

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'Leccy Tech Reg Hardware has never really shared Formula One President Max Mosley's belief that the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) technology that will be allowed in the sport from this year will filter down to road cars.

Just goes to show how wrong we can be.

Today, Lancashire-based transmission expert Torotrak announced it is working with TATA-owned Jaguar-Land Rover on just such a system.

In 2008, Torotrak formed a partnership with two other companies - Xtrac and Flybrid – to develop a flywheel-based F1 KERS system. Though it seems not to have been taken up by any of the teams - only Williams has decided to run with a flywheel- rather than battery-based system – it looks like the technology will jump straight from the drawing board to road cars without going via F1.

As Torotrak notes: “A Formula 1 car has similar requirements for a hybrid system as a road car – both vehicles require a rapid recovery of energy from the vehicle inertia, high efficiency in the transfer of the energy to and from the storage medium, high efficiency of the storage medium itself, delivered with high energy density in a small package with low weight.”

Assuming the road going version of the system is similar to that planned for F1, it has several benefits, including its compact size and - at only 25kg including the associated CVT transmission – low weight.

What Jaguar-Land Rover intends to do with technology isn't clear at this stage, but fitted to a Land Rover Discovery, it could provide an extra surge for pulling tree stumps up around one's estate. Fitted to an XK-R, it could produce a handy burst of BMW-humbling acceleration.

Or it could just be used to increase boring old fuel efficiency across the range, something of particular attraction to the makers of large and thirsty model ranges like JLR.

At the Symposium Innovative Automotive Transmissions, held in Berlin during December 2008, Torotrak presented numbers that suggested a KERS system could result in fuel efficiency being increased by between 20 and 30 per cent in a road car, and by more when fitted to commercial vehicles that stop and start a lot - buses, for example.

In related news Williams F1 – which, as Williams Hybrid Power, have developed its own flywheel-based KERS system – says it's also working with a “number of large manufacturers” on automotive applications of its KERS technology. ®

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