Dana Holding Corp. has finalized plans to open a new research and development center near Austin, Texas, to support its ongoing work with continuously variable transmissions.
The center will be near the headquarters of Fallbrook Technologies, a Cedar Park, Texas, company that late last year announced it had granted Dana exclusive licensing rights to develop one of its transmission designs for passenger vehicles and some construction equipment.
Unlike the continuously variable transmissions commonly used in many of today’s cars, Fallbrook’s design uses two rotating balls to change the transmission’s ratios. The company says the “planetary” design is stronger, lighter, and less complex than other designs.
It will likely be several years before the transmissions start showing up in passenger cars, but Dana spokesman Jeff Cole said Monday that things are going well so far.
“We’ve had a lot of very good interest, and the development is moving along,” he said. “We’re pretty excited about the long-term prospects for this technology, both in light vehicles and some of our off-highway applications.”
When the partnership was announced last year, Dana officials said they believed the design had the potential to increase fuel mileage by as much as 8 to 10 percent in passenger vehicles.
Mr. Cole said Dana has been working closely with Fallbrook since day one of the partnership, but needed a permanent space.
Dana has committed to spending at least $12 million for the new, 40,000-square-foot facility. Cedar Park’s Economic Development Department approved financial incentives worth $1.25 million to help with the project.
Officials said Monday the new facility is expected to open in March. The center will employ more than 80 engineers, some of whom are former Fallbrook employees.
“Certainly having that engineering staff that’s very familiar with this technology nearby is an advantage for us,” Mr. Cole said.
The facility will be Dana’s 16th global technology center. The company also has a facility in Maumee. Mr. Cole said no work will be moved from Toledo to Texas.
“There will be a lot of collaboration, but the specific purpose for this new technology center will be for the CVP technology,” he said.
Company officials said the new center is another example of Dana’s ongoing commitment to research and development.
“Dana was launched nearly 110 years ago with a game-changing innovation that helped to commercialize motorized transportation, and our new technology center in Cedar Park will propel the development of the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles,” George Constand, Dana’s chief technical and quality officer, said in a statement.
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