Tell us a bit about your business. When were you founded, where are you based and how many people do you employ?
Drive System Design (DSD) was founded in 2007 as an engineering consultancy specialising in vehicle drivelines. It is headquartered in Leamington Spa with facilities in Michigan, USA, and South Korea. DSD employs more than 100 engineers and specialists who serve markets globally.
The Leamington Spa headquarters has been the subject of an ambitious expansion programme, inspired by growing customer demand, and the US-based testing centre was opened last year.
What does the business do?
DSD is a vehicle driveline expert specialising in electrified drivelines. It has worked closely with vehicle manufacturers to advance driveline development and is transferring this expertise to the commercial vehicle industry, which is traditionally at a lower stage of adoption than passenger cars.
Whether it is a ground up design of a new driveline, or optimising efficiency of an existing product, we can do this and everything in between – including the design of drivelines and electrification systems, development of control systems, testing and manufacturing prototypes.
How is business? What’s the outlook for the year ahead?
Of course, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the global automotive industry. We are fortunate in that we can continue technology development and take the time to carefully analyse global markets and their varied requirements, ensuring that our focus and ongoing work is precisely optimised for individual and regional needs.
Also, product development for the commercial vehicle sector is a long, highly complex process, which we have found has been more resistant to unrest caused by the global pandemic. In short, the challenges remain the same, the technologies continue to evolve and DSD remains at the forefront of optimising electrified solutions.
What are the big issues or technology advances that fill you with positivity?
Commercial vehicle electrification is hugely exciting. The challenges are comparably vast, but the appetite for adoption of emissions-reducing technology is helping the development of next-generation drivelines. Range and charge times allied to optimised payload is obviously a clear hurdle to overcome, but incremental driveline improvements can combine to provide substantial efficiency benefits, making electrification and automation key technologies for our customers.
Automating gear shifts continues to provide a significant opportunity for the commercial vehicle industry through improving driveline efficiency, reducing the reliance on nuanced driver skill and extending component lifecycle through the elimination of aggressive use.
With the ultimate goal of reducing truck and bus transmission total life cost, alongside cutting emissions, DSD has developed automated shifting technologies that mirror the tough expectations of a fiercely competitive sector: typically 400,000 miles for medium duty and over a million miles for heavy duty applications.
Chief Engineer, DSD, Mike Savage