China's Geely auto group backs Bloodhound
China’s Geely auto group has become the main sponsor behind the British Bloodhound supersonic car project.
The Asian company’s support means the jet-cum-rocket racer now has the financial means to go and break the land speed record next year.
Geely is the largest privately owned car manufacturer in China.
It is perhaps better known in the West as the owner of Volvo and the London Taxi Company, which makes “black cabs”.
Bloodhound aims to raise the current land speed record (763mph/1,228km/h) to 800mph (1290km/h) in October 2017.
The intention then is to make some alterations to the vehicle and raise the mark still further some 12 months later. The ultimate target is to go above 1,000mph (1,610km/h).
The driver will be Andy Green, who holds the current land speed record.
Geely - more properly known as the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group - will provide some engineering assistance to Bloodhound, as well promoting its STEM message across Asia.
The whole Bloodhound venture was started as a way to engage children in science subjects and skills.
Thousands of schools in the UK and across 10 countries have picked up this initiative, and are using model rocket cars to teach fundamental concepts, such as Newtonian laws. Geely wants to spread some of these educational ideas across China.
Ash Sutcliffe is the auto-maker's communications manager: "We will help push the Bloodhound story in China. We will send engineers over to the UK. Geely engineers will be very much involved in this project, working alongside the Bloodhound team. We want to take this story across China in the next few months."
Bloodhound had been in hibernation before the auto group’s intervention.
The supersonic car had largely been constructed but there was not enough cash to go racing on its specially prepared track in Northern Cape, South Africa.
That problem has now gone away with the single biggest sponsorship deal in the project’s eight-year history. All debts have been cleared and there is sufficient liquidity to carry the effort through to its next phase.
Bloodhound director Richard Noble said: "When Andy Green and I started this project we realised it was going to be a huge undertaking and it needed to be global. We had to find the right partners with the correct spirit and ambition, and we're delighted this dynamic, exciting business (Geely) has decided to join the team."
And Andy Green added: "We can now tell a partnership story of a global engineering adventure, not just in China but across Asia. We couldn't have done that before."
Engineers who took a “holiday” from the project during its hiatus are now coming back in.
The vehicle is presently at the Bloodhound technical centre in Bristol, being stripped down from its initial "dry build”, prior to being reassembled, with fluids, ready to start running.
A key task is to complete the development of the vehicle's rocket system.
Bloodhound will be using a Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine to get itself rolling and to reach speeds in the low hundreds (mph), but it will need a booster to take it through the sound barrier and on to 800mph.
The rocket itself is being sourced from the Nammo company in Norway, but it will use a Bloodhound-designed gearbox and oxidiser pump driven by a Jaguar V8.
Testing of these elements all operating together is just about to get under way.
"In July next year we will be down at Newquay (airport) to go 200mph," said chief engineer Mark Chapman. "That's for shakedown runs of the whole car. Then we go out to South Africa in September/October to go 800mph."
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