Independent automotive engineering consultancy Ricardo plc has acquired the IFT Group, an automotive engineering group based in southern Germany. The IFT companies provide high performance and niche exhaust systems, prototyping, small series production and testing services covering vehicle, engines and related systems, serving established customers.

Ricardo said the acquisition significantly increases its presence in Europe's leading automotive market, providing the necessary infrastructure, complementary technology and critical mass to deliver full powertrain and vehicle integration programmes from a local German base and team.

“The German market for automotive engineering consultancy is perhaps the most technically demanding in Europe, driven by the needs of major vehicle companies including DaimlerChrysler, BMW, Audi, Porsche, VW, Opel, Fiat-GM Powertrain and Ford of Europe. The acquisition provides a delivery base on the 'doorstep' of the southern German premium automotive manufacturers and many of their key tier one suppliers including Bosch. In addition the northern Italian car industry is also readily accessible from this base,” Ricardo said in a statement.

The IFT companies employ 270 people, operating from headquarters in Schwäbisch Gmünd, customer sites and a small design office in Budapest. With the addition of existing staff already based in Germany, Ricardo will have around 20% of its staff in the region, following the acquisition.