Fallbrook Technologies Spinoff Viryd Raises Another $5M for Wind Power Innovation
Viryd Technologies, a wind turbine technology startup spun out last May by San Diego’s Fallbrook Technologies, has secured a $5 million investment that includes a Chinese maker of automotive components.
Viryd was founded near Austin, TX, to integrated Fallbrook’s proprietary transmission technology in power-generating wind turbines for the renewable energy. Unlike a conventional transmission, which uses a set of gears with specific fixed-speed ratios, Fallbrook’s continuously variable transmission uses a planetary mechanism that “shifts” seamlessly as a drive train accelerates and decelerates.
Fallbrook CEO William Klehm tells me that Viryd shares many of the true-believer angel investors who invested $25 million in Fallbrook after it was founded in 1998, and who joined in the $29.4 million raised last year in Fallbrook’s first round of venture funding. Neither Viryd nor Fallbrook has identified its individual investors, although Klehm has previously disclosed that Fallbrook’s angels include Gary Jacobs, son of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, and Gary Weiss, whose Weiss Group provides consulting and executive search services.
Viryd is announcing today it has raised another $5 million from its existing investors and China’s Ningbo Shentong Auto Decorations. Shentong also will name a representative to Viryd’s board of directors. The Texas company raised $5M from individual investors last year. Viryd and Shentong Group plan to form a joint venture to manufacture wind turbines for markets worldwide, and especially in Asia and China, where the market for renewable energy is just emerging.
Viryd says the design of its drive train enables the rotors of a wind turbine to rotate more efficiently at any wind speed. Its design also allows for the use of an inexpensive generator that can be connected directly to the utility grid without power electronics and inverters, according to the company. Fallbrook, meanwhile, continues to develop its NuVinci continuously variable transmission for the automotive market, saying its transmission without gears operates more efficiently and at lower cost than conventional transmissions.
Viryd’s deal with Ninbo Shentong Auto could bear implications for Fallbrook as well. Based in Yuyao City in mainland China, the company’s customers include Shanghai General Motors, Shanghai Volkswagen, FAW-Volkswagen, Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen AutoMobile (DPCA) and Beijing Mercedes-Benz (Daimler Chrysler).