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Mercedes-Benz unveils its revamped G-Class


The all-new G-Class makes its public debut at the Detroit auto show in G550 form. Completely redeveloped and fitted with a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo gasoline engine offering 427ps and 450 lb-ft of torque at 2,000rpm to 4,750rpm, despite near-identical looks to its predecessor plenty has changed for the Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Ford’s F150 pickup gets its first diesel motor


Developed by the powertrain team behind the 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine for super duty trucks, the all-new 3.0-liter V6 Power Stroke unit promises 250ps, 440 lb-ft of torque, and an anticipated 5175kg of towing capacity.

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In light of Fisker's solid-state battery breakthrough and claims of a one minute charge time, will this electric vehicle technology development kick-start mass BEV uptake? 


Torotrak swoops for Flybrid stake

Torotrak has purchased a 20% stake in flywheel hybrid innovator Flybrid Automotive with an option to acquire the remaining shares before the end of the calendar year. The transaction strengthens 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 expects the deal will accelerate the adoption of its technology, which it says will be in fleet trials with bus operators later this year through an agreement with bus constructor Wrightbus.

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 a 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 programs with a wide range of vehicle manufacturers worldwide.

“As well as allowing us to accelerate the development of our M-KERS technology family, this acquisition will secure our access to what we believe is the most market-ready flywheel system available,” said Torotrak CEO, Jeremy Deering. “We now have the complete skill set, development resources and low-volume manufacturing expertise needed to help vehicle manufacturers, across a wide range of applications, introduce a technology that will allow them to significantly reduce CO2 emissions for a fraction of the cost and weight of conventional electric hybrids.”

Flybrid’s carbon fiber flywheel spins at up to 60,000rpm in a near-perfect vacuum. Drive can be provided by the company’s CFT clutch-based transmission system or by Torotrak’s CVT. Already proven in motorsport applications such as LMP1 sportscar racing, CFT KERS can provide up to 100 kW and 540 kJ of storage in a system that has a full wet weight, including the electro-hydraulic control system, of less than 40kg. “CFT KERS scales down very well so could open-up a new market for small, low-cost automotive hybrids,” added Hilton. “It’s a good fit with Torotrak’s CVT, which is ideal for higher power systems and is already central to several of our customer programs.”

Flybrid’s portfolio of development programs includes Volvo Cars (which uses Torotrak’s CVT), Wrightbus, two manufacturers of off-highway vehicles and several motorsport constructors. Evaluation programs are ongoing with several other vehicle manufacturers across a wide range of sectors including passenger cars. Flybrid says that if these relationships continue to progress as planned, their technology could be specified for a production vehicle by 2016. Torotrak’s investment will provide additional resources to help secure this timing.

26 March 2013


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