Torotrak CEO at Automotive Cleantech Conference: Electric Vehicles Steer “Funding Away From Potentially More Effective and Near-Term Solutions”


Torotrak's Annual General Meeting is Looking a Bit Empty

Torotrak’s Annual General Meeting is Looking a Bit Empty

We’ll preface this post by stating that this will likely be one of the most unusual articles you’ll come upon on InsideEVs.

Torotrak Slogan

Torotrak Slogan

What’s so unusual, you ask? Well, the CEO of Torotrak, a UK-based developer of infinitely variable transmission systems and flywheel technology for vehicles, made some harsh anti-EV statements at a recent automotive conference in London.  Usually, we’d have to turn to media coverage of such an event to get a gist of what a CEO stated at some conference held in a foreign country.

Not this time.  Oddly, Torotrak put out a press release, which has several of those anti-EV quotes made by its CEO.

Why would Torotrak release this?  Clearly, the trans-maker has an agenda and EVs don’t fit in with its goal.

Here’s that release:

At the Automotive Cleantech conference in London, Torotrak CEO, Jeremy Deering, told delegates that the automotive industry was being misdirected as a result of distorted targets for CO2 emissions, based purely on tailpipe measurements. Citing unrealistic expectations for electric transport solutions, Deering called for a more balanced approach that recognised the whole life emissions of the different transport alternatives and that could help deliver more effective solutions, more quickly.

“Electric vehicles can have higher CO2 emissions than equivalent vehicles with an efficient internal combustion engines, when measured over their entire life cycle, but current regulations do not recognise this,” Deering explained. “The result is that electric solutions are portrayed as zero-polluters and attract enormous investment that steers funding away from potentially more effective and near-term solutions.”

Deering believes that electric vehicles have a major role to play in a future low carbon transport system, but argued that this should be alongside other technologies, such as improved internal combustion engines and mechanical (flywheel) hybrids. “The danger of over-investment in electric technologies in the search for an emissions ‘magic bullet’ is that progress is held back in other areas that could deliver more immediate CO2 savings across the mass vehicle parc,” he said. “Over the next 15 years, the total contribution to CO2 reduction from full hybrid electric technology will be far too small to make the impact we need compared to the overall reductions required.”

Deering highlighted industry’s search for a breakthrough in energy storage through advanced battery technology. “There has already been a breakthrough in energy storage,” he said. “It just happens to be mechanical, using high speed flywheels. It’s here and it works, so let’s use it now.” Pointing to Torotrak’s pioneering work with flywheels on both passenger cars and buses, Deering highlighted the efficiency, compactness and cost advantages of the technology that compares starkly with the costly, heavy and difficult-to-package electric alternatives.

Addressing the issue of long lead times for technology introduction, Deering told the conference that improvements could be made by both regulators and technology developers. The regulators, he said, should maintain stability of legislation, with long-term frameworks announced well in advance and harmonised across markets, where possible: the World Light Duty Test Cycle due to be phased in from 2017 was a welcome step in this direction.

The technology developers could also help themselves, he said, explaining how Torotrak had taken steps to move its technologies closer to market. “We have evolved our business from licencing early stage intellectual property to building investor-funded technology demonstrators, made under our own control,” he said. “This level of application engineering strengthens our relationship with OEM and Tier1 customers, and moves our technology towards market-readiness more quickly.”


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21 Comments on "Torotrak CEO at Automotive Cleantech Conference: Electric Vehicles Steer “Funding Away From Potentially More Effective and Near-Term Solutions”"

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The buggy whip makers are feeling threatened!

LOL so so true!!


ICE hybrids in their various configurations have had over a decade as the only alternative to plain ICE, and all they could achieve was a few % of the market, with only a single automaker really mastering the art.

Governments have actually spread their eggs in many baskets on alternative vehicle technologies.

Now that EVs are emerging as the clear winners, the losers resort to whining, distorting reality and – naturally – blaming the referee.

“Electric vehicles can have higher CO2 emissions than equivalent vehicles with an efficient internal combustion engines, when measured over their entire life cycle”

How? There is so many studies that shows that electric car are always a greener option, even in regions where electricity is really dirty. So I would like to know how can he state such a thing.

He is right that we should use alternative: but it is not ICE car and hybrids. It is just fewer cars, by investing in public transportation. But I guess he wouldn’t be too happy of that.

I only see the CEO of a company that don’t sell EV parts, and that refuse to evolve. But soon or late, they will have to face the reality, or disappear.

Absolutely agree re: what alternatives to pursue.

As to the claim that EVs have worse-than-ICE footprint: he probably refers to hybrids not plain ICE, and this type of estimates have been unfortunately prevalent. And due to the vested anti-EV interests in business and politics, they’ve been given a big media echo-chamber with little inspection.

Most of these estimates are based on a gross inflation of the overhead needed to produce battery-packs. Once more realistic battery-overhead numbers are plugged in, EVs take the lead regions not dominated by coal.
Once off-peak charging is factored in, EVs take the lead everywhere including coal regions. It’s still a far cry from “zero emissions”, but it’s better than anything ICE can offer, and on track for fast improvement.
See here:

He is probably referring to that study from 8 years ago from Reason (a right-wing think tank) that said a Hummer is greener than a Prius – with such questionable assumptions like having to buy a new Prius every 5 years while the Hummer lasts 10-15 years.

What is funny about that comment is that I know people who have Prius with over 250,000 miles on them and they are still going strong and I also know people who have had them for almost ten years.

“There is so many studies that shows that electric car are always a greener option, even in regions where electricity is really dirty.”

That’s just flat out not true.

Studies HAVE shown that a typical EV, even when powered by coal, has lower power plant emissions than the tail-pipe emissions from the AVERAGE gasoline vehicle in the US. They HAVEN’T shown that a coal-powered EV is cleaner than a highly-efficient gasoline ICE vehicle.

A 100% coal-powered EV is significantly dirtier than a Prius, for example, even when assuming higher upstream energy costs for gasoline…

2.1 lbs-CO2/kwh_from_coal x 1.1 (upstream coal emissions factor) x 0.3 kwh/mile = 0.693 lbs-CO2/mile

19.4 lbs-CO2/gallon of gasoline x 1.25 (upstream gasoline emissions factor) x 50 miles/gallon = 0.485 lbs-CO2/mile

And that doesn’t factor in ANY of the extra energy used in manufacturing EV’s. That’s a tough nut to crack, as is off-peak charging. But simply looking at the easily quantifiable figures, EVs are not always the cleanest.

EVs win hands down in any realistic scenario. Electricity production is getting cleaner. Oil production is getting dirtier and more expensive (fracking, tar sands).

Only plugin cars can make a significant reduction in pollution and running costs in the long run.

The plugin car has left the stable and isn’t going back.

As of 2009, EVs were already always the cleanest option for about half the US population, and in the same ballpark as hybrids elsewhere.

The average age of passenger vehicles in the US is just over 11 years, so the picture we should look at instead is the 2025 grid.

(This forecast doesn’t account for the lessened impact of off-peak charging, and furthermore assumes that oil remains as easy to extract and process as today, which isn’t likely.)

Maybe they should try to make a CVT for EVs then. Tesla tried multispeed trannys but didn’t really work out. Maybe if a company that specializes in CVTs, which are kinda like single speed transmissions, loosely, can make something worthwhile, they should be set.

Exactly. Change can be a threat or an opportunity. In some cases, it is what you make it to be.

The fact that EVs don’t need multispeed transmissions is a huge benefit. It makes for a less complex vehicle and, thus, a more reliable vehicle.

They don’t need it, sure, but a transmission could potentially increase the efficiency of an EV, Tesla is going back to a two speed transmission, albeit with a very novel approach (AWD, with front and rear geared differently). Remember that improved efficiency is improved range with a given battery, so we shouldn’t just blow it off…

Must agree with you! If there is little need for a transmission, I rather not have one, as it will be something less to care about when maintaining the car. If they want to put a transmission in an EV, it would need be add a lot of range to compensate the more complex car.

The Transmission going on a car is usually what kills it.

I’m sure the combustion engine is the way to zero emissions. It sure aint electric drive.


This is exactly what they seem to be claiming. It’s perfectly idiotic when boiled down to what you wrote.

He’s talking about flywheels, as in KERS, I think. Mechanical energy recovery that is common in European racing, but that shows up as battery storage in passenger vehicles.

Near-term solutions? I’m not sure about head of Torotrak, but there are probably 10 dealers in a 10-mile radius where I can now buy an electric car. Not only that, the fuel “pump” for my car is about 25 feet from my dining table, and the fuel for my car doesn’t come from a well in North Dakota which is then shipped by pipeline to a refinery on the gulf coast, then trucked to a gas station a mile from my house, it comes from my roof. My near-term solutions are working just fine, thank you.

Seems all like sour grapes to me. Who cares if my 2 ev’s generate CO2? They must be trying the same script as Audi. But then again, I remember how they insulted Audi 5000 owners’ intelligence by stating they can’t tell the difference between the brake and the gas.

The guy who had his swimming pool ledge ground down by the Audi Tire I think we can say didn’t have this problem, truth be told, seems to me the computer went nuts, floored the gas thru the cruise control , and turned on the anti lock brakes to limit braking effectiveness… The engine just torqued on by.