High performance niche products driving positive change

High performance niche products driving positive change
15 November 2019

High performance niche products driving positive change in the transportation, industrial, defence and energy sectors

A blog by Ian Penny, Commercial Director

A high-end engineering consultancy, Ricardo is driving positive change in the transportation, industrial, defence and energy sectors.

Understanding our customers’ challenges and delivering to their needs, we provide industry-leading thought leadership, roadmaps and innovative products and technical solutions. We deliver concept to production programmes with deep content. We are leaders in areas of high efficiency, electrification and virtual product development.

Ricardo has a unique blend of expertise: strategy and advice; design and analysis; product development and testing; product launch; production and compliance. We have solutions for the entire product lifecycle and can take projects from strategy definition all the way through to low volume production. Or, depending on the situation, we can offer a unique and deep technical set of services to meet our clients’ needs. Our design and analysis capabilities are a foundation for developing products - with manufacturing in mind - to deliver the best cost, quality and performance.

World-renowned experts in high performance, niche products, our specialist manufacturing and assembly capabilities enable us to deliver low-volume prototypes in-house to minimise disruption and to ensure test and development remains on schedule. We also provide launch and post-production support. In some cases, we supply production parts and even complete vehicles for niche applications.

Find out more about some of our low volume products and one-off special niche applications:

Low volume products

  • McLaren M838T Engine

    Ricardo is McLaren Automotive’s engine partner. In partnership with McLaren, we designed and developed the McLaren M838T 90 degree V8 twin-turbo engine which has been a multi-award winning International Engine of the Year in the 3-4 litre category. Subsequently, we have fulfilled all engine manufacturing requirements for McLaren’s luxury entire product range.

    The engines are manufactured at the Ricardo High Performance Assembly Facility at Shoreham-by-Sea – a world class facility that successfully combines state-of-the-art quality systems in a highly advanced and flexible manufacturing environment. The engine production facility incorporates laboratories and workshops capable of supporting prototype engine builds and advanced metrology – and a second dynamometer, capable of simulating real-world load conditions and of testing engines across the full range of power outputs.

  • Ricardo manufactured seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission for the Bugatti Chiron

    Ricardo continues to set the benchmark in high performance transmissions. We assisted Bugatti in the design and development, and continue to manufacture, the highly advanced drivelines and transmissions for the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron.

    Ricardo manufactures for the Bugatti Chiron the seven-speed Dual Clutch Transmission, which is one of the world’s most advanced, transmitting over 1500 HP and 1600 Nm of torque. It accommodates this significant power and torque increase within an extremely compact packaging envelope, while retaining and improving upon driving characteristics. To achieve this, Ricardo sought technical solutions derived from its extensive Formula 1 activities, which allow access to previously proven, highly advanced materials for construction and to innovative manufacturing processes. The Chiron’s Dual Clutch Transmission is thus weight neutral in comparison with that of its predecessor, the Veyron, while accommodating a significant increase in power and torque.

    In September 2019, Bugatti announced that a pre-production derivative of the Chiron achieved the accolade of being the first hyper sports car to exceed 300 mph – establishing a new TÜV-certified speed record of 304.773 mph (490.484 km/h)

  • Design of the battery for the McLaren P1

    Ricardo was contracted by battery cell manufacturer Johnson Matthey to design the most power dense battery pack in production, and provide the battery management system which delivers world-class hybrid performance for the McLaren P1.

    As part of the design, Ricardo undertook battery sizing, based on energy, power and life, together with the vehicle packaging and battery pack. The team selected the cell type and defined the module concept, and undertook 3D thermal and computational fluid dynamics analysis for cooling design. Ricardo completed the mechanical design of the modules, pack, internal hardware components, and undertook the turn-key development of the battery management system hardware and software. Lastly, the team specified the cell, module and pack validation plans, and undertook module and pack validation testing.

    The result was the delivery of the world’s most power-dense battery pack into production - 1.25 kW/kg – helping the McLaren P1 vehicle achieve phenomenal performance figures.

  • Foxhound

    Ricardo continues to deliver innovative solutions for the defence sector. The Foxhound was developed for the UK Ministry of Defence from a clean sheet of paper to full production in less than two years, in direct response to the urgent need to protect the lives and improve survivability for front line troops faced with the threats of roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices.

    The military specification included a maximum weight of 7.5 tonnes, to enable it to be airlifted by a Chinook helicopter. The architecture developed by Ricardo and its partner Force Protection Europe is a radical one: the hull is V-shaped to deflect bomb blasts, all the powertrain and mechanical components are housed inside, and interchangeable rear ‘pods’ allow it to do duty as a flatbed pickup, ambulance or reconnaissance vehicle. The 3.2 litre six cylinder engine drives all four wheels, and even if an entire wheel and suspension corner is blown off the vehicle can continue.

    The FED Alpha, also a clean-sheet design and prototype build, demonstrates a 70% fuel economy improvement for the US Army.

One-off specials

JCB DieselMax Land Speed Record streamliner car


In August 2006, the JCB DieselMax took the FIA international diesel-powered land speed record when it reached 350.092mph on Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA, using two 750hp JCB444-LSR DieselMax engines developed by Ricardo.

Ricardo simulations pointed to a power requirement of 1500hp to reach the 350mph (563 km/h), and with an intimate knowledge of the engine’s every component, Ricardo’s specialists worked out that with a double engine arrangement, the target could be in reach.

It was a considerable engineering feat to boost each engine from 125 hp to six times that output: laid on their sides and fitted with dry sumps, each four-cylinder, five litre engine ran at 6 bar boost with intercooling and water injection. Soon they were giving 600hp. A number of bespoke components were required, including a solid billet crankshaft, competition fuel injectors ad pistons and modified cam profiles.

For the record run, the engines had been boosted to their full 750hp to achieve the record-breaking speed, which still stands today.

To find out how Ricardo’s expertise in high performance low volume niche products, could benefit you and your customers, please contact: [email protected]