Automotive Cleantech Fallbrook Technologies Relocates Near Austin

5/2/13Follow @bvbigelow

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commercialize Fallbrook’s continuously variable transmission technology for such markets as commercial vehicles, military use, and certain large stationary equipment markets. The company signed a similar licensing agreement with Dana to adapt Fallbrook’s technology for passenger vehicles, and certain off-highway vehicles.

“Developing one application alone [requires] 150 engineers and $350 million,” Klehm said by phone recently from his new office in Cedar Park. He added that much of Fallbrook’s operations are co-located with Dana, which has an engineering center in Cedar Park. The companies’ work currently is focused on design and development, but Klehm said he expects the partners will begin assembling transmissions in the Austin area by 2015.

Fallbrook also reached a licensing agreement with Team Industries of Bagley, MN, which already is a leading maker of continuously variable transmissions and electric vehicle drivetrains.

"See through" image of NuVinci planetary design

Whereas a conventional transmission uses a set of gears with fixed-speed ratios, a continuously variable transmission (CVT) uses a mechanism that changes ratios seamlessly as a drive train accelerates and decelerates. Unlike CVT designs that use belts or doughnut-shaped designs, Fallbrook’s design uses steel balls in what the company calls a continuously variable planetary (CVP) drive train.

To Klehm, the deals with Allison, Dana, and Team Industries also provide Fallbrook with a major automotive stamp of approval.

“We never had that full validation of our variable transmission from the auto industry,” Klehm said. “Their due diligence said we had passed the physics and economics test. So we’ve been accepted now in the automotive supply chain.”

Allison and Dana also made investments in Fallbrook, which has raised a total of more than $115 million from angel investors, venture capital firms, and other investors over the past 15 years.

Fallbrook’s move also follows some longstanding ties in Texas.

The company conducted … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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