Issue: Oct 2010


Reducing time to market for new powertrain and hybrid vehicle innovations



by Steve Barclay

Ricardo and Pi Shurlok have announced a collaboration that will enable their customers to benefit from the ability to develop new products based on world-class control technology that can move quickly and seamlessly from concept to production, enhancing the potential and reducing time to market for new powertrain and hybrid vehicle innovations.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Ricardo and Pi Shurlok have agreed to work closely together to provide customers in the automotive, commercial vehicle, off-highway equipment and defence vehicle sectors with a completely new service. The two companies will offer the option of a comprehensive and fully integrated solution ranging from the development of powertrain products incorporating new ECUs by Ricardo, through to high quality, volume electronics manufacture and supply from Pi Shurlok. This joint service will be based upon a choice of Ricardo’s open architecture “Morfeus” controller and Pi Shurlok’s OpenECU technology, for which a wide range of production-ready ECUs is available for new vehicle innovation programmes.

For almost all new conventional and hybrid powertrain technology development programmes, enhancements are necessary to the product’s control software and the electronics of the ECU hardware on which it operates. In particular where enhancements are sought to performance, fuel economy, emissions and supervisory control, such changes frequently entail the use of a prototype level controller for the purposes of initial development. Once product targets are achieved, the same functionality has to be subsequently re-engineered on a production-ready ECU platform. Using either Ricardo’s Morfeus or one of Pi Shurlok’s OpenECU products however, Ricardo is able to develop the prototype system on a production-ready platform which is immediately available for series manufacture.

Pi Shurlok has a broad-ranging automotive customer base comprising many of the world’s leading automotive, transportation and related sector companies including BMW, Detroit Diesel, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Renault, Toyota, and VW, and their respective tier one suppliers, and has a business model and development capability which is extremely complementary with that of Ricardo. The collaboration remains non-exclusive and both Ricardo and Pi Shurlok will continue to offer their products and services independently of each other. By combining their respective services and products in this way however, the two companies believe that their joint customers will be able to derive significant benefits in both time-to-market and product functionality and quality.

Commenting on the collaboration with Ricardo, Pi Shurlok’s chief operating officer for international operations Dr Nigel Preston said:

“Our innovative OpenECU™ hardware and tools are proving to be a popular and effective automotive electronics solution, for both prototyping and production. We are delighted to be working with the leading industry service provider, Ricardo, to integrate our technology within their large-scale, new product, development programmes.”

Ricardo plc executive director Mark Garrett added:

“The collaboration between Ricardo and Pi Shurlok provides a completely new business model for our customers in the automotive, commercial and off-highway vehicle and related market sectors. This will enable Ricardo to develop next-generation world class conventional and hybrid powertrain products for customers using a range of production-ready development platforms. In this way Ricardo customers intending to use Pi Shurlok for production ECU fulfilment, will be able to take advanced product development from concept to market in a much shorter timescale without compromising functionality or quality.”

Ricardo plc: With technical centres and offices in the UK, USA, Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Russia, China, Japan, India and Korea, Ricardo is a leading independent technology provider and strategic consultant to the world’s transportation sector and clean energy industries. The company’s engineering expertise ranges from vehicle systems integration, controls, electronics and software development, to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies, as well as wind energy and tidal power systems. Ricardo is committed to excellence and industry leadership in people, technology and knowledge; approximately 70 percent of its employees are highly qualified multi-disciplined professional engineers and technicians. A public company, Ricardo plc posted sales of £162.8 million in financial year 2010 and is a constituent of the FTSE techMark 100 index – a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit www.ricardo.com.

Pi Shurlok is a world leader in the development and manufacture of electronics for the automotive, transportation, defence and industrial markets. Using its OpenECU™ products; its engineering services; and its manufacturing capabilities, Pi Shurlok delivers rugged, cost effective, electronics solutions for single prototypes up to volumes of more than 100,000. Pi Shurlok’s engineering services teams are skilled in electronics design, electronics manufacturing and systems design, including engine management; transmission and emissions control on gasoline, diesel and hybrid powertrains, body and chassis control and infotainment. Pi Shurlok is a wholly owned subsidiary of Control Instruments Group Limited, a company listed on the JSE Limited since 1987, (JSE: CNL). For more information, visit www.pi-shurlok.com.

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