Future vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover could use a flywheel-based hybrid powertrain now that the automaker is reportedly working with British transmission specialist Torotrak, the same company that helped develop the KERS hybrid system
that's currently being tested in Formula 1 racing. Most hybrid vehicles recapture energy that would normally be lost to braking by using the electric motor(s) as a generator, sending power back to the batteries. In Torotrak's system, the recaptured braking forces are stored in a small flywheel that spins at up to 64,000 RPM. When the vehicle speeds back up, the flywheel gives off its kinetic energy and reduces the load on the car's engine.
In related news, fellow transmission maker Allison has purchased a 10 percent stake in Torotrak and plans to use its Toroidal CVT transmission technology in future vehicle applications. These units are currently used in lawnmowers and can reportedly boost fuel efficiency by 20 percent.