Revolutionary technology might have died without new initiative

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Developers of cutting edge automotive technologies say their innovations might never have seen the light of day, but for the launch of the new Automotive Proving Factory in Rotherham.

Jon Hilton, from Flybrid Automotive, pictured above, sees the £22 milion initiative as vital to his company’s future.

Flybrid’s flywheel-based system recovers energy during braking. It is one of the few purely mechanical systems and has already been tested on a sports prototype racing car at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

Despite its racing pedigree, it could also have major applications in boosting the efficiency of construction equipment.

“We’re a private company and don’t have enough money to build a factory,” says Mr Hilton.

“It would be a very big investment and we would have to sell a sizable stake in the company to make the next step.”

Dave Sanderson from Librato, developers of a completely new design of rotary engine, said: “The proving factory enables us to scale up the volume and achieve quality standards.

“We probably couldn’t do that without the factory. It takes away a lot of barriers.

“We are continuing to develop the prototype and the proving factory will help with that.”

Meanwhile, Blaydon Jets, which has created a miniature jet engine that could be used as a portable generator or to extend the range of an electric car, says the factory is vital to getting the first 1,000 to 10,000 of its engines out into the market.

Torotrak will be another beneficiary.

It has developed a high efficiency, variable boost turbocharger.

A spokesman for the firm said: “It would have cost too much for us to invest in setting up a factory and that’s not what we are good at.”

Other companies involved in the project include power train developer Drive Systems Design.