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Flybrid flywheel KERS to be integrated into a manual gearbox by Lotus-led consortium

The UK’s Technology Strategy Board has awarded Torotrak, in collaboration with lead technology partner Lotus Cars, a grant to develop a new application of the Flybrid KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) technology for integration into a manual gearbox. (Torotrak completed its acquisition of Flybrid in January. Earlier post.)

The project is valued at £4.3 million (US$7.2 million) to the consortium members and will be part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board grant, with a value of works undertaken by the Torotrak Group directly of approximately £0.7 million (US$1.2 million) over the course of the project. It will run for approximately 24 months from its commencement in the second quarter of 2014 and will see the lightweight, race-proven Flybrid KERS technology installed into one of Lotus’s signature performance road cars.

The award was made under the Technology Strategy Board’s Low Carbon Vehicles Integrated Delivery Programme 10: ‘Building an Automotive Supply Chain of the Future’, to a consortium also including Productiv, the industrialization specialists.

This grant funded project aims at developing the UK-based supply chain for low carbon automotive technologies, and helps Torotrak become further engaged in the UK automotive supply chain, the company said.

Lotus will lead the project, providing donor vehicles, development support, and purchasing Flybrid hardware to test the installation. Flybrid will design, develop and manufacture bespoke flywheel KERS hardware for integration with the Lotus manual transmission.

Productiv will offer production support throughout design and development. There will also be a number of key subcontractors working closely with the Consortium on transmission integration and optimum control implementation.

Torotrak’s M-KERS unit. Click to enlarge.

Flybrid’s core technology is a flywheel-based M-KERS (mechanical kinetic energy recovery system) for use in mobile applications. The mechanical hybrid system uses no batteries, and works by recovering kinetic energy during braking which would otherwise be lost, and then returning the stored energy to assist the vehicle under acceleration.

As the vehicle slows, kinetic energy is recovered through the KERS continuously variable transmission (CVT) or clutched transmission (CFT) and stored by accelerating a flywheel. As the vehicle gathers speed, energy is released from the flywheel, via the KERS CVT or CFT, back into the driveline. Using this KERS energy to reaccelerate the vehicle in place of energy from the engine reduces engine fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The Flybrid KERS is lightweight and compact, and its ability to store energy and deliver power does not deplete during use. The net result of Flybrid KERS in most vehicle applications is a significant reduction in fuel consumption, however the technology can be applied to deliver significant additional performance as well as fuel saving.

The opportunity to integrate Flybrid KERS into a lightweight, agile performance car will be a step towards integration in higher volume manual transmission compact cars in the future.

—Jon Hilton, Torotrak’s Commercial Director and Flybrid Co-founder



Interesting but I doubt that it will fly. I think that it would be easier to use electric motor/generators to get the power into and out of the flywheel instead of a mechanical CVT drive.


I'm curious about the conversion losses into and out of the flywheel. This avoids rare-earth magnets and may be cheaper and lighter as well. Energy recovery provides gretest return on large vehicles that stop frequently (think garbage trucks and buses), but CVT is best suited to lighter vehicles. If this is durable enough it could be good on taxis and light-weight delivery vehicles.


It adds a 3rd leg to the hybrid stool - electric, hydraulic and now mechanical.

I suppose it all comes down to cost - is it more or less expensive than a battery or hydraulic system?

Plus, an electric hybrid can be morphed into a plug in by adding a larger battery, charge port and upgrading the software, enabling a smoother transition to electric motoring. This is more of a one trick pony.

Nonetheless, if it is cheap, reliable and easy to integrate, it could be a winner.

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