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US motor-maker buys two UK firms to form a transport division

08 June, 2021

The Californian motor developer Turntide Technologies, has acquired two UK businesses, Hyperdrive Innovation and the engineering technical centre business of BorgWarner Gateshead, and plans to use them as the basis for a new division focusing on intelligent motor systems for the commercial transportation industry. Financial terms of the deals have not been disclosed.

The new business, called Turntide Transport, will establish operations in Gateshead, UK, marking the start of a multi-year investment in the region. Turntide plans to combine its Smart Motor System with the acquired electric vehicle technologies, initially targeting electromechanical systems in some challenging markets to decarbonise – including commercial and industrial vehicles, rail, marine and aerospace.

Customers that Turntide Transport has acquired with its new businesses include Aston Martin, Hitachi Rail, JCB and Volkswagen’s MAN division.

“Our world is at a tipping point,” says Turntide’s chairman and CEO, Ryan Morris. “We desperately need to reduce our carbon emissions, but they continue to rise despite the accelerating electrification of passenger vehicles. Because Turntide has been successful in driving down energy use and waste in the built environment, it is critical that we translate this success into transportation to help combat the growing threat of climate change. We are excited to incorporate the experience and innovation that these two businesses have to offer as we launch into the transport market.”

The UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has welcomed what he calls “this game-changing investment by Turntide. It will drive forward the technologies we need to clean-up the cars and vans on our roads, boats on our seas and planes in the sky.”

Turntide’s Platform for Sustainable Operations brings together its switched reluctance based Smart Motor System with automation and the cloud to improve the efficiency of building controls, electric vehicles, and industrial processes. Until now, it has focussed on building applications, primarily retrofitting electric motors in HVAC and agriculture with intelligent, high-efficiency systems.

The acquisition of Hyperdrive Innovation, an independent manufacturer of energy storage systems for off-highway and material-handling vehicles, as well as stationary and portable energy storage systems, will add energy storage in Turntide’s portfolio of technologies. Hyperdrive, founded in 2012 and based in Sunderland, designs, develops, and manufactures modular high-performance lithium-ion battery systems for a wide range of applications. It employs about 70 people and its customers include JCB, Hitachi Rail, Cargotec, and the world’s largest online grocery retailer.

The acquisition of the Gateshead Business includes the facilities of the Gateshead Technical Centre. Under the previous ownership of BorgWarner, this has been designing power electronics for vehicles for more than five decades, focusing on motor controls and motion technologies for industrial electric applications. About 65 people work there.

By integrating technology from the acquired businesses, Turntide Transport will become a one-stop powertrain platform provider, including battery packs, power electronics, motors and connected intelligence.

Turntide Technologies new UK acquisitions include the Sunderland-based energy storage developer, Hyperdrive Innovation

“The electrification of transport is inevitable, but it isn’t coming quickly enough,” says Matt Boyle, who has been appointed managing director of Turntide Transport, and has chaired the UK’s Driving the Electric Revolution industrialisation centres as well as the North East Automotive Alliance. “With success in the built environment under our belt, incorporating the technology from these two businesses with the Smart Motor System will allow Turntide to simplify the path to sustainable transport.

“Gateshead has become well-known worldwide as a growing centre for digital business,” adds Boyle, who also has a part-time role as professor of practice at Newcastle University. “We are excited to make Gateshead a centre for our innovation in sustainable transport, a move that reflects our confidence in the city.”

In the US, Turntide has focused on using its high-efficiency motors to reduce energy consumption in buildings. Its customers include Amazon, BMW, and Five Guys, which are said to have achieved average energy savings of 64%.

Turntide’s backers include investment funds set up by the actor Robert Downey Jr and Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The company has recently completed an $80m funding round, bringing its total funding to date to $180m.

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