Zytek has a rich history with the development of hybrid technology for road cars, with some notable industry firsts:

  • First hybrid to be developed for production outside Japan.
  • First hybrid to be developed with a fully integrated “Electric Power Take Off” facility.
  • First to work with certification authorities to develop realistic test scenarios for hybrid vehicles.


Whilst hybrid systems have been evolving in motorsport since Zytek’s first solution in the late 1990s, this is also the same time that hybrid systems in road cars began to become mainstream. High-volume hybrid vehicles started to be introduced with the Toyota Prius 1997 and Honda Insight 1999.

GM saw the market and wondered what a US based hybrid would look like, and how it could be made to appeal to a new market. The identified sector was the contractor market using a light-duty truck as the base platform, where electrification would lend itself with a raft of new features, and the project was then given the green light for development. GM searched for an integration partner and Zytek were nominated to deliver the first hybrid truck to enter the market, a project successfully concluded in 2004.

Hybrid development with GM

Zytek’s road car division was awarded initially with a feasibility study to investigate hybrid architecture, but soon this moved to a full development contract where Zytek was responsible for all of the hybridisation activities (excluding the design and manufacture of the 48V motor/inverter/battery system). 

The vehicle was designed to be one of the most complex hybrid vehicles to date, incorporating features such as 120V AC mains in the cabin and the bed, operating modes where the engine would keep running with the sockets permanently powered without the ignition key being present (including shutting down of non-essential ECUs). 

With the Zytek team being fully integrated into GM’s engineering team in North America as well as setting up dedicated facilities in the UK, and with testing over extremes of heat, cold and altitude all over the world, the programme development could not have been more intensive.

Hybrid for Road

Test Plan Development

Hybrids were even sufficiently new to the certification authorities that unique test plans needed to be developed and approved, all created by the Zytek team, some of which are still in use today. Programmes such as this demonstrate that hybrid technology has the ability to offer users an experience beyond what conventionally powered cars can provide, but innovation needs to be created in an environment that is always able to be certified to make those concepts reality.

Keeping Up To Date

The technology used in hybridisation (and electrification) is subject to huge advances in materials knowledge, processing and manufacturing, so to keep up with the state-of-the-art requires advanced development teams to be fully engaged with the supply chain to understand what should be in production in four to seven years’ time. 

Advanced Development Engineering with Jaguar Land Rover

Zytek frequently engages with such advanced development engineering, creating products and integrating them into vehicles for baseline assessment and approval for further engineering activities. One such programme example was the development of a range of technology demonstrators for Jaguar Land Rover, proposing the future for 48V MHEV, 300V HEV and 300V BEV vehicle platforms. 

Developing a range of novel traction machines and their associated electronics, using new lightweight materials, and testing them to ensure performance correlated with the complex simulation models, these exercises helped JLR make the decisions for the future of electrification, moving away from the internal combustion engine.


Digital Engine Management

Since 1981 we have been innovating auto electronics and voltage systems for the electric motor, with an unrivalled history of digital engine management development and deployment in the highest tiers of motorsport.


We have been deeply involved in EV innovation and development since 1994, and are proud of a number of firsts, such as the first 6 in 1 drive system to reduce EV powertrain mass and complexity, through to using our core knowledge for successful completion of work involving more conventional hybrids and hybrid designs.

Hybrid Motorsport

We have an unrivalled history with the development of hybrid technology in motorsport, such as the first hybrid system to win its class in IMSA endurance racing.

Vehicle Electrification

Helping you with suitable recommendations at all stages of the vehicle electrification process, from initial design and modelling, to manufacturing and assembly, to testing at our in-house facilities and track.


Largely speaking, yes, but there are some key differences in terms of material choices and safety.

Yes, but in motorsport the emphasis is more towards lightweight and efficiency, whereas in road car units, cost has a much higher importance. The balance of product cost (and the impact of material choice vs efficiency and cost) and the types of vehicle can always be simulated and discussed with customers enabling data-driven decisions to be made regarding product design.

No, there are separate sets of regulations that need to be followed. Motorsport systems are bound to regulations issued by the FIA whereas road car systems are governed by standards issued by a wide-range of international regulatory bodies.

Yes. The largest single component in a hybrid system will always be the battery. Where this is to be located should ideally be thought about at the vehicle design stage, as the best integrated systems will use dedicated apertures in the body in white (BIW). 

If a large battery is being introduced part way through the life of a model, then the boot space can be used but this will reduce both the carrying mass and capacity. The necessary electric machine and power electronics can be packaged much more flexibly, and Zytek has found many customers historically where the mechanical integration challenge has been answered by unique, customised solutions of our electrical systems.