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Award winner waits for green light

Cox Powertrain took the 2019 Innovations Award in the Marine Power and Propulsion category for its innovative CXO300 diesel outboard engine. We spoke to Cox Powertrain's Global Sales Director, Joel Re.

It’s clearly been a hectic time.  A new, state of the art production facility has been finalised in the UK, at Brighton City Airport, the workforce has increased from 85 to 140 and the company’s global distributors now number 35, including Ring Power in the US, Sime Darby in Singapore and Berthon in the UK.

With the results of final emission testing in the US imminent the green light could soon be given for full production to begin, a milestone in the company’s short history.

Joel tells us it all began in 2007 with motor racing engineer, David Cox’s vision to create lightweight diesel engines using F1 technology. Since then Cox has brought together highly skilled engineers from Formula 1 racing and premium automotive engine design to develop a completely new concept diesel engine, the CXO300.

It is said to be the highest power density diesel outboard ever developed and the first diesel outboard to be designed specifically for marine applications. It combines traditional V8 4-stroke engine architecture with an innovative vertical crank shaft, offering twice as much torque as a petrol outboard, significantly reduced weight and package size compared to a conventional inboard.

We asked Joel who, in addition to David Cox, have been the key people in bringing the product to fruition. The Cox Powertrain management team now includes Tim Routis, former CEO of Cosworth and Steve Moore from Ricardo. Its Board has just been joined by non-executive Director, Tom Purves, former CEO of Rolls Royce Automotive. Joel says he will be a great addition as a sounding board and as an expert in building brands.

This is foremost in Joel’s mind as the company is keen to build Cox Powertrain as a premium brand. It’s aiming for the top 20% of the marketplace where service and brand values are highly prized.

We asked Joel what the biggest challenges have been for Cox Powertrain. His swift reply was finance. It was not easy to raise finance for R&D when nothing like the CXO300 existed. Happily, the company now has a solid group of individual investors who are supporting the company’s growth, no mean feat when the investment has now topped £100 million.

Currently the company is also encountering what are hoped to be short term challenges with the supply of parts from China, courtesy of the Coronavirus shut down.

Despite this blip the immediate future is certainly looking promising for Cox Powertrain. But we couldn’t help broaching the subject of climate change and the future of diesel. Joel says it’s a question the company had faced many times in seeking investment.

There are two parts to his answer, first it’s likely that diesel will be around for offshore vessels for some time to come. The reality is the marine environment is just not the same as the one faced by the automotive industry. Vessels consume 75% more power than vehicles and are so much more sensitive to the weight and space issues for the installation of batteries. Having said that Joel believes the technology will advance and it will be the automotive industry which will lead the way. So, the second part of his answer is the company is preparing for long term change and it’s no surprise that Cox Powertrain’s Chief Engineer was involved in engine hybridisation at Jaguar Land Rover.

By the time Cox Powertrain set up at Seawork, production should be underway, the next step in its ambitious plans for the future.

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