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Fallbrook and TEAM to commercialize NuVinci CVT for low- to medium-speed vehicle by late 2015 or early 2016

Fallbrook Technologies Inc., inventor of the NuVinci continuously variable planetary (CVP) transmission technology (earlier post), and TEAM Industries (TEAM) plan for the near-term commercialization of NuVinci technology in a transmission suitable for a small, low- to medium-speed vehicle. Initial production units should be available by the end of 2015 or early 2016.

TEAM is the exclusive licensee of NuVinci CVP technology in North America and Europe for electric and gasoline light vehicle applications. Fallbrook and TEAM have been working since 2011 to validate the benefits of the NuVinci technology for TEAM’s products. (Earlier post.)

The NuVinci technology is a continuously variable planetary (CVP) based on a set of rotating, tilting balls fitted between two rings. The CVP comprises an input disc, or ring, driven by the power source; an output disc, or ring, connected to the CVP output; and a set of balls, each rotating on its own axle and fitted between the input disc, output disc and a central “sun” to help maintain the balls in position.

Torque (the blue line at the top with arrows going left to right) is transferred through the input disc to the balls using a thin layer of traction fluid and then through the balls to the output disc via another thin layer of traction fluid.

The input disc and output disc are “clamped” onto the balls tightly so that the requisite amount of clamping force is provided for the amount of torque being transmitted. The use of the traction fluid to transmit torque prevents destructive metal-to-metal contact between the balls and discs while providing traction for the balls and rings and lubrication for bearings and other components.

The speed of the output disc compared to the speed of the input disc (speed ratio) is controlled by the angle of the ball axles relative to the axis of the transmission. Tilting the ball axles shifts the transmission from low to high (as shown left to right), or from high to low, or to any ratio in between. The number of balls used depends on several factors including torque and speed requirements, operational requirements and space considerations, among others.

Click to enlarge.

TEAM is the largest supplier of rubber belt continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) to the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV), Low/Medium Speed Vehicle (LSV/MSV), and Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) markets, all of which are included in Fallbrook’s license to TEAM.

A recently completed design project suggested that it was possible to have a NuVinci-equipped commercial product available in a relatively short time frame. We are eager to take advantage of the opportunity to have the first commercial NuVinci application available in a powered vehicle outside of eBikes.

—Tony Passanante, Senior Director of Strategic Planning at TEAM

Fallbrook and TEAM have revised and enhanced their licensing agreement including identifying specific development and sales targets as well as providing TEAM personnel access to additional design tools from Fallbrook.

While the details of the updated licensing agreement are confidential, we anticipate there will be other TEAM commercial products incorporating NuVinci technology after the introduction of the initial product. We are thrilled with the progress that has been made and the expansion of this relationship. More effective/affordable technology is required for the next generation of transmissions, and that is exactly why the NuVinci technology was developed.

—William G. Klehm, III, Fallbrook’s Chairman and CEO

The NuVinci technology uses a set of rotating balls between the input and output components of a transmission. Tilting the balls changes their contact diameters and varies the speed ratio. Compared to other continuously variable transmission technologies, NuVinci CVP technology can be configured to replace multiple planetary gears, providing significant performance improvement in a smaller package and at a lower cost.

Compared to other CVT technologies—toroidal, push belt, hydromechanical and chain—the NuVinci CVP is less complex, has fewer parts, offers more stable control and scalability across product lines, and is less expensive to manufacture and assemble, according to Fallbrook.

In addition to TEAM, two other major automotive transmission suppliers (Allison and Dana, earlier post) have licensed NuVinci technology for the development of automotive-class drivetrains.

The first commercial products incorporating the technology are the currently available NuVinci N360 bicycle transmission and the NuVinci Harmony auto shifting system for bicycles which includes the N360. Fallbrook has built an extensive portfolio of more than 600 patents and patent applications worldwide.


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