Ricardo pulls together hybrid vehicle resources

Engineering consultancy Ricardo has announced plans to consolidate its work on hybrid and electric vehicles into a single operation.

The Ricardo Global Hybrid Product Group will bring together experience in all aspects of hybrid vehicle engineering, including system architecture definition, power electronics design and advanced energy management and control technologies.

It will also be able to exploit the company's expertise in intelligent by-wire control technologies for systems such as steering, braking and chassis control, and in high fuel efficiency, low emissions diesel and gasoline engines, transmission systems and vehicle engineering.

Since 2000 the company has been responsible for more than a hundred hybrid powertrain and vehicle programmes, ranging from simulation and strategy studies and concept developments to numerous product engineering programmes. Current research includes projects with QinetiQ on low cost Lithium-Ion battery technology and with Land Rover on range-extended hybrid electric vehicles.

As a part of the transportation arrangements for the Beijing Olympics, a 50-strong fleet of hybrid vehicles co-developed with Ricardo was provided by Chery Automobile Company. Known as the ‘Olympics Green Messengers’, these vehicles are among China's first hybrid vehicles and will go into full production in the months following the games.

The new group will be headed by Dr Roger Thornton, who joined Ricardo in 2006 as senior hybrids manager having held senior engineering management and consulting positions with companies including PA Technology, The Technology Partnership, and vehicle developer Wavedriver as well as setting up his own technology consulting firm, Contex Consulting.

Thornton believes his team will need to draw on a much wider range of skills and technologies than their counterparts working on conventionally powered vehicles.

“We also need to focus these skills and technologies at a system level, ensuring that the new products fulfil their fuel economy and performance objectives while also delivering a robust, fun-to-drive product that can be manufactured efficiently and sold profitably,” he said. “If we do this, the business case for hybridisation can be extremely compelling."

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