Infinitely variable transmission (IVT) development company Torotrak has appointed Jaguar product development director Richard (Dick) Elsy as chief executive from 1 January 2003.

Dick Elsy

Reuters noted that Elsy succeeds Maurice Martin who stepped down in September before his planned retirement from the engineering company next year.

Reuters said the news came as Torotrak reported a pre-tax loss of £3.2 million pounds ($US5.1 million) in the six months to September 30, compared with a loss of £445,000 in the year-earlier period.

"We have been looking for a new chief executive with the experience and contacts within the automotive industry to drive us through to market launch," Torotrack said in a statement sent to just-auto.

"Dick has been part of the top team… that has driven Jaguar's growth over the last few years.  He has a proven track record in getting new products and technology from concept readiness through the implementation phase to production readiness and on to market launch."

Elsy recently launched the revised 2002 Jaguar S-type and delivered the new aluminium body construction technology for the redesigned XJ saloon.

Before Jaguar, Elsy was project director at BMW's Rover Group where he launched the Land Rover Freelander with patented new technology including hill descent control.

"Dick's experience will strengthen the capability of our business development team to confirm and prioritise the key milestones and gateways required by our licensees during their implementation phase," Torotrak said.

The company said this phase, in which high volume production issues are finalised, typically lasts 12-24 months before the final production go-ahead decision is made.

"As we look beyond this implementation phase the team will identify how we can support our licensees in getting the product to market.  Dick has significant experience in this field having actively developed the new product introduction process at the car manufacturers for whom he has worked."

The statement said Torotrak's strategy remains to achieve market launch of its IVT technology by the car manufacturers and their tier 1 suppliers.

The company claims IVT technology is the next generation transmission beyond automatics, and that it must work closely with customers to develop the technology for their future vehicles.

Achieving market launch in the automotive sector remains Torotrak's primary objective, the statement added.