Ricardo marks one hundred years of performance and sustainability

Ricardo marks one hundred years of performance and sustainability
11 January 2015

Ricardo 1915-2015 Centenary logo

  • A year of celebrations planned for 2015 to record a highly successful century of operations for Ricardo
  • Enduring legacy for the future underscored by launch of a new world-class low carbon vehicle research centre

Few companies globally can match Ricardo’s impressive 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 brand new £10 million facility will enable the development of next-generation of clean, low carbon vehicles including advanced technology hybrid electric vehicles and their associated energy regeneration systems. 

Founded as Engine Patents Ltd on 8 February 1915 and formally registered on 10 August 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 world’s first battle tank: the First World War was then raging. 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 gen 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 UK’s first mass manufactured engine. The proceeds of this early success endowed Harry Ricardo with the resources to create the technical centre in Shoreham, which remains the UK and world headquarters of the company that he founded.

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 hundred years since then. 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 and higher quality 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. While the company has expanded considerably from its early roots, and operates today across multiple continents and industries, it remains true to this core ethos of excellence in engineering and clean technological innovation.
Montage showing the Ricardo engined Citroen Rosalie which in 1937 was the world's first commercially available diesel passenger car, a present day Ricardo SUV EV demonstrator, and the original Bridge Works constructed in the early years of Ricardo
The Ricardo centenary year will commence with a series of employee events at each of the company’s many international sites across the UK, Europe, the United States and Asia. The first public aspect of the centenary festivities was the launch earlier this month of the Ricardo 100 web site – www.ricardo100.com – which will be used to provide news and information throughout 2015 regarding events marking the Ricardo centenary year. This will be followed in the spring by the publication of a high quality book documenting the history of Ricardo, which will be made available to the public through the Ricardo online store. 

Reflecting the company’s commitment to education and training, a Centenary Bursary is to be launched, which will provide assistance to students initially from the Shoreham area through their university studies – an initiative that the company aims to roll out in the areas close to all of its other major UK facilities.

One of the most exciting 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 United States, before returning to Shoreham in time for the launch of the VERC.  

“True sustainability is not just measured in terms of our ability to reduce the carbon we release into the atmosphere, the resources we consume or the pollution associated with the emissions of transport and industry,” commented Ricardo chief operating officer Mark Garrett. “For a business to be truly sustainable it needs to do all these things, but it also needs to be commercially profitable in order to sustain its own performance and develop world class talent for the future. Ricardo is one of very few companies that can demonstrate a commitment to pushing the boundaries of energy efficiency and clean technology for one hundred years. This is clearly a cause for celebration for our employees past and present, our customers and our many other stakeholders around the world, as we look forward to many future successful years for Ricardo.”



A full copy of this press release and accompanying high res images are available from the link at the top right of this page.