Sustainable tech developer Turntide Technologies raises $225M

Turntide Technologies, a sustainable technology developer, has announced $225 million in convertible note financing that it says will help fund projects to reduce carbon emissions in the commercial buildings, agriculture and transportation industries.

Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board led the round, along with Monashee Capital Inc. and current investor JLL Spark. Other participating investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Millennium Management and Suvretta Capital Management, bringing Turntide’s total funding to $400 million. Convertible note financing is short-term debt that will convert to equity in the form of shares of preferred stock which Turntide says will happen at a future determined valuation.

“The addition of a major national pension fund fortifies Turntide with permanent capital as we expand into new markets like electrified transport,” said Ryan Morris, Turntide’s chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Earlier this month, Turntide announced the acquisition of Hyperdrive Innovation and BorgWarner Gateshead and the subsequent launch of Turntide Transport. Using the drivetrain tech from those two U.K.-based companies, this division of Turntide is focused on modernizing legacy motor systems in the commercial transportation industry such as those found in construction equipment, high-speed rail, autonomous robots, freight trucking and shipping and air cargo. The fresh funds will also go towards Turntide Transport’s goal of creating a “one-stop powertrain platform that includes battery pack, power electronics, motor, and connected intelligence,” according to the company. 

The company says its so-called “Smart Motor System” reduces energy consumption by nearly 64%, and will address the need for sustainably electrifying more challenging markets than passenger vehicles, where most of the progress has been made to date.   

Turntide says it is working with brands such as JCB, Hitachi Rail and Volkswagen’s MAN division to further develop a motor that doesn’t use environmentally damaging rare earth materials, and that can achieve net zero climate goals, which also makes it cheaper to produce. 

The $225 million will also finance the development of a cloud-based software platform that the company expects to be released this year. The platform will integrate the Smart Motor System into different built environments and electric vehicles in a way that’s user friendly. 

“Turntide’s technology combines a redesigned electric motor wrapped in intelligent automation with cloud connectivity to dramatically improve the efficiency of building controls, electric vehicles, and agriculture,” Morris told TechCrunch. “Today, half of the world’s energy is used by electric motors and nearly half of that energy consumption is being wasted due to inefficiency and lack of intelligent controls.” 

Why you’re about to see a lot of drifting Tesla Model 3 videos

Tesla Model 3 owners who opted for the Performance variant now have a reason to go to the track. Or, if history is a guide, they’ll skip the track and try the newly released Track Mode software feature in a parking lot or winding road.

Track Mode — to be clear — is designed for, and should only be used on closed autocross circuits and racetracks. Here’s why.

The software feature taps into the dual electric motors to squeeze even more performance out of the vehicle. But in a new way. Until now, Tesla has used the power produced by its dual motors and torque (the rotational force of an engine or, in this case, motor) to create a super-fast-accelerating vehicle. Now it’s using that same motor power and torque to turn the Model 3 into a cornering (and drifting) dynamo.

As Tesla explains in a blog post (and shows in the video below), the company replaced the stability control system with its own in-house Vehicle Dynamics Controller, “software developed specifically for Tesla vehicles that acts both as a stability control system and also as a performance enhancement on the track.”

This Vehicle Dynamics Controller allows for more rotation if needed. If the rotation is insufficient, the system commands a rear-biased torque. When rotation is excessive, it commands a front-biased torque. Track Mode also improves cornering by applying brake and motor torque at the same time to produce an increase in tractive force while cornering.

What all this means is that the system is designed to send all the power to the rear wheels while the driver is cornering, which pushes the tail out. If the rotation becomes excessive, the power is sent to the front wheels, pulling the vehicle up and out of the turn.

When enabled, Track Mode also increases regenerative braking. This gives the braking system a break (ahem) and sends more energy back into the battery. It also gives drivers more control with a single pedal (the accelerator). Meaning, the driver can simply lift a foot off the accelerator to get the braking they’re looking for as they approach a corner.

Track Mode also anticipates the strain on the powertrain, so it drops the temperatures of the battery and the drive units in preparation for the track and continues to cool them down between drive sessions.

What’s even more interesting is how Tesla fine-tuned the feature. Motor Trend’s Randy Probst ended up working with Tesla engineers during a track session at Willows Springs’ Street circuit to get Track Mode performing as it should. The result was a 1:21:49 lap time, beating the recently tested Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and matching the 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4.