Torotrak, the UK-based engineering and technology company specialising in Infinitely Variable Transmission (IVT) technologies, has announced the signing of a licence agreement with ZF Friedrichshafen AG (ZF) for the evaluation of its IVT technology.

Maurice Martin, Torotrak’s chief executive, said in a statement:

“This agreement with ZF represents another strong endorsement from the industry following a similar evaluation licence with Aisin AW of Japan signed in January this year. The first Aisin AW prototype will be produced later this year and we look forward to further developments with ZF.

Licensing ZF is another significant milestone on the strategic path to market launch. We continue to build relationships with, and licence, tier 1 suppliers to the industry. At the same time we continue to sell the benefits of our technology to car manufacturers who recognise the advantages the IVT can bring to their customers.”

Earlier this year it emerged that GM will not exercise its option to purchase the company’s IVT technology. It was seen as a setback for the company and its share price plummetted.

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GM’s decision followed Toyota’s withdrawal at the end of 2000. However, the company has plenty of other existing vehicle maker licensees including Ford.

IVT (also known as a toroidal transmission) has been in development for many years. It is based on a simple arrangement of input/output discs and variable angle rollers that run between them – without the need for the belt used in Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The technology can help to cut fuel consumption.

Torotrak developed and patented the system and continues to develop it for a number of car and gearbox makers around the world.

A Japanese transmissions maker (Jatco) already has a form of IVT in series production for the domestic market and Nissan has an IVT-type unit in use in some of its domestic market executive cars.