There is something about the number “100” that resonates – maybe it is the round numbers or the solid feeling that it evokes. But when you hit that century mark, you know that something special has occurred.
That is why Ricardo is celebrating its centennial with a year’s worth of events. It is a fine accomplishment for any business, and few companies globally can match Ricardo’s track record of achievement in the development of innovations for improved energy efficiency, cleaner fuels, reduced noxious emissions and noise and leadership in creating new disruptive technologies.
As the company enters its centenary year, a range of events and celebrations is planned, culminating in the mid-2015 launch of the low carbon Vehicle Emissions Research Centre (VERC) at the Ricardo Shoreham Technical Centre in Southern England. This new $15 million facility will enable the development of next-generation of low carbon vehicles including advanced technology hybrid electric vehicles and their associated energy regeneration systems.
Ricardo has its Detroit Technical Campus at 40000 Ricardo Drive in Van Buren Township.
Founded as Engine Patents Ltd. on Feb. 8, 1915, and formally registered on Aug. 10 the same year, the company that is today known as Ricardo plc was the original creation of Harry (later Sir Harry) Ricardo. Its first major success was the design of an engine which transformed the performance of the first battle tank during World War I.
The design incorporated a range of new technologies to reduce smoke and improve performance and efficiency in the arduous environment of the western front. Used in a range of applications from railway shunting locomotives to generator sets as well as in tanks, the Ricardo engine was the most powerful and reliable automotive power unit available to the allies, and became the U.K.’s first mass manufactured engine. The proceeds of this early success endowed Harry Ricardo with the resources to create the technical center in Shoreham, which remains the U.K. and world headquarters of the company that he founded. Ricardo had revenue of $346 million (£229.7 million) in 2013.
Unlike many firms of that period, the Ricardo company was – as its original name of Engine Patents Ltd. implies – focused from the outset on the creation of new technologies and innovations, as opposed to engaging directly in the mass manufacture of engines or vehicles. Performance and sustainability have been the key watchwords over the 100 years, the company said.
The technologies that the company has developed and the engineering assistance it has provided has led to the creation of improved fuels and more fuel efficient, better performing products by its customers – products that range from two wheelers and passenger cars to the largest and most powerful of railway locomotive engines, marine propulsion systems, and off-highway and construction equipment.
The Ricardo centenary year will commence with a series of employee events at each of the company’s many international sites across the U.K., Europe, the United States and Asia. The first public aspect of the centenary festivities was the launch earlier this month of the Ricardo 100 website – www.ricardo100.com – which will be used to provide information throughout the year on the milestone.
One of the most high profile employee initiatives of the centenary celebrations will be the Ricardo 100 Global Challenge, a round-the-world relay using some of Ricardo’s historic vehicle fleet as well as examples of the latest technology demonstrators developed by the company, and customer vehicles that the company’s engineers have helped to bring to market. The relay is planned to start from the Shoreham Technical Centre during the spring, heading east through Europe, Asia and the U.S., before returning to Shoreham in time for the launch of the VERC.