Automotive manufacturer and part of Liberty Vehicle Technologies is set to expand its product development programme for high performance road vehicles following a successful debut season on the Formula One track.
The Warwickshire-based firm is the first new braking system supplier to enter into the F1 supply chain in almost ten years. 920E, known as an automotive Tier 1 supplier, has been strengthening its engineering resource and is embarking on a multi-million-pound investment programme as part of its technology-led strategy which includes products for motorsport, performance road cars, military and autonomous vehicles.
920E’s entry into Formula One, supplying Force India, has coincided with the team’s most successful season ever, achieving 187 points in the Constructors Championship.
Following the final Grand Prix of the 2017 season at Abu Dhabi, 920E announced that it was already developing new high performance products for road cars, electric vehicles and autonomous platforms based on its expanding involvement in world motorsport’s top tier.
The Liberty-owned business will expand its design and development programmes further when it opens its new Centre of Automotive Excellence at Leamington Spa, in a year’s time.
Outline planning permission for the centre has just been granted by the local council.
Managing Director of Liberty Vehicle Technologies, Anthony Blackwell, said after the closing Grand Prix of 2017: “We warmly congratulate Force India on their consistent and best-ever performance this season. It is a great honour to have been part of the package that has supported this success and a pleasure to work with them.
“With the combined mechanical design and manufacturing capability of 920E and the control electronics and mechatronic capabilities of our Shiftec team, we are working on multiple technologies that have proven themselves on-track and have applications across braking and steering systems for the coming generation of electric, hybrid and low emissions, high efficiency vehicles.”
He confirmed that the 920E team, led by the well-known motorsport industry chief engineer Jon Tait, are already working on next season’s Formula One products.
Following approval by the NASCAR series in 2014, 920E began its evolution into motorsport and high performance providing braking systems for the US racing circuit in the 2015 season and subsequently used that expertise to develop brakes for Formula One.
Mr Blackwell explained that 920E’s sister company Shiftec, also part of Liberty Vehicle Technologies, supplies a wide range of products to premium motorsport series including highly controlled off-board starter motors to various Renault engines on the Formula One grid, clutch control to IndyCar and various LMP programmes among others. However, he added that the caliper supply to Force India represents a major evolution in the firm’s on-track capability within the Formula One series.
“We have a highly talented team which includes people with extensive Formula One, GT, WRC and performance vehicles experience. All the high technology engineering is complemented by an industrial, in-house manufacturing capability which enables us to achieve a rapid turnaround. In some cases, we have delivered from clean sheet to finished calipers in only eight weeks. This is only achievable by having absolute control of the full process.”
“Operating in Formula One is very much a collaborative process, working with the F1 team to optimise an inevitable balance between aerodynamics, stiffness and thermal management. We were also able to bring a commercial approach to the operation which achieved the right result in double quick time and kept costs down.”
He said experience in top motorsport was invaluable as an ‘excellent proving ground’ for technology that could then be transferred to road cars.
“Our experience with NASCAR in the US has already trickled down to the products we’re designing for road cars. We expect the same to happen with Formula 1 and have a number of development programmes underway to feed this experience through to our mainstream products. Products are already in development which have resulted directly from experience within motorsport, which we will see on road cars in 2019.”