By coordinating the movement of spinning balls, start-up Fallbrook Technologies says it has made a more efficient transmission system suitable for a wide range of mechanical devices.
The San Diego, Calif., company on Monday said that it has raised $25.4 million in a round of funding led by venture capital firm NGEN and the investment arm of Dutch bank Rabobank to expand production of its transmission.
Rather than use gears, Fallbrook's NuVinci transmission relies mainly on a series of balls, which rotate and tilt, to transfer mechanical power. There are other "continuously variable planetary" drive technologies, but NuVinci can be made relatively inexpensively because it's easy to manufacture, said the company's CEO William Klehm.
The auto and transportation area is seeing more venture capital money flow into it, as start-ups look for more fuel-efficient technologies.
At the end of last year, Fallbrook began to supply a transmission for electric bicycles. Klehm intends to find partners in other industries, including light electric vehicles and wind turbines.
"This is a very basic device, but it has the potential to have an immediate impact on improving the efficiency of hundreds of devices out there," he said.