Volvo touts mechanical KERS for future road cars (but fails to mention partners Flybrid & Torotrak)
By Mike Hanlon
June 1, 2011
Volvo indulged in some odd behaviour overnight when it made a curious omission from a publicity release promoting the Kinetic Energy Recovery System development for which it has just received a US$1,000,000 grant from the Swedish Energy Agency.
Volvo named its partners in the KERS project being Volvo Powertrain and SKF, but somehow managed to leave out the fact that the core technologies described in the press release and portrayed in the diagrams it released alongside the press release were Torotrak's variable drive technology and Flybrid Systems (UK) flywheel KERS technology originally developed for Honda F1 and set to debut in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race next week.
Torotrak immediately issued its own press release setting the record straight, but it's hard to see any motive for Volvo's omission other than to mislead the public as to its progress and expertise in the field.
The Volvo press release describes how the technology has the potential for reducing fuel consumption by 20%, giving four cylinder engines the acceleration of a six cylinder unit.
Indeed, looking through the press release, it's obvious that a lot of trouble has been taken to omit the names Torotrak and Flybrid. For instance, when describing the lightweight flywheel being used in the new KERS, the press release notes "Flywheel propulsion assistance was tested in a Volvo 240 back in the 1980s, and flywheels made of steel have been evaluated by various manufacturers in recent times. ... The flywheel that Volvo Car Corporation will use in its test car is made of carbon fibre."
Regardless of whether Volvo publicly wishes to acknowledge where the technology it is testing comes from, it seems certain that Volvo intends to pursue mechanical KERS in its road cars.
"If the tests and technical development go as planned, we expect cars with flywheel technology to reach the showrooms within a few years," said Derek Crabb, Vice President VCC Powertrain Engineering.
"The flywheel technology is relatively cheap. It can be used in a much larger volume of our cars than top-of-the-line technology such as the plug-in hybrid. This means that it has potential to play a major role in our CO2-cutting DRIVe Towards Zero strategy."