Gyrodrive hybrid technology: ‘first to make economic sense to bus operators’04 November 2014

Today, on the opening day of Euro Bus Expo (4—6 November, NEC, Birmingham), GKN Land Systems has announced that it is increasing production of its Gyrodrive hybrid technology.

Stating that the system is the first of its kind "to make economic sense" for bus operators, GKN points to successful trials in London to justify its claim.

In fact, the electric flywheel system promises to enable operators to save fuel, reduce fares and make some routes more viable – hence the anticipated growth in demand, says Phil Swash, GKN's chief executive.

"As we increase production volumes, GKN's economies of scale will make Gyrodrive's cost and benefits compelling for many commercial vehicle operators," he adds.

The Gyrodrive system can be thought of as a lower cost alternative to conventional battery hybrids and delivers fuel savings of up to 25% – with payback in three to four years.

It is also smaller than battery or super-capacitor-based hybrid units, so doesn't compromise seating or passenger capacity. And it can be retrofitted to existing fleets.

Essentially, a high-speed composite flywheel is paired with a GKN EVO electric motor to regenerate energy normally lost during braking.

When the driver brakes, a traction motor on one of the axles slows the vehicle and generates electricity simultaneously.

The electricity charges the flywheel, spinning it rapidly up to 36,000 rpm. When the driver accelerates, Gyrodrive then returns the energy to the wheels, boosting power, saving fuel and reducing emissions.

In June, Gyrodrive helped to power Audi Motorsport's hybrid race car to a third consecutive victory in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race.

Laura Cork

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