When Zytek was founded in 1981 by Bill Gibson, the company’s initial focus was to provide engine management systems to motorsport, with Zytek supplying the first fully electronic engine management system to be seen in Formula One, in the Toleman-Hart car driven by a young Ayrton Senna.
By 1987 Zytek had expanded into racing engine design and build and its engines have finished first and second at the gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours and powered teams to championships in International Formula 3000 and the Le Mans Series. Zytek is now widely recognised as the number one engine supplier for one make championships, having supplied Formula 3000 for nine years and A1GP for three and is currently the supplier to the prestigious Renault FR3.5 Series and Auto GP championships.
In 2009, Zytek produced its own Le Mans Prototype, which ran with a Zytek Q10 Hybrid system finishing on the podium on its debut at Lime Rock Park, Connecticut in the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series.
Zytek’s motorsport success led to a successful road car business, initially using its engine management knowledge to power a new generation of ultra high-power supercars such as the Jaguar XJ220. Soon Zytek was working with some of the leading names in performance motoring, including Aston Martin, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Today Zytek engine control technology is running on the high performance V10 Dodge Viper.
In the mid 1990s Zytek began the development of what was to become the highest power-density electric vehicle drivetrain available at the time. Zytek’s technology was ideally suited to the smart fortwo which became the focus of Zytek’s electric vehicle research and development. Zytek’s expertise in this arena was rewarded in 1999 when awarded a turnkey hybrid development programme by General Motors, firmly establishing the company as one of the world’s leading integrators of electric and hybrid-electric drive systems.
Zytek’s outstanding capability came to the notice of Motorola in 2000, procuring 19% of the Zytek Group. In 2006 this passed to Continental AG who purchased all of Motorola’s automotive divisions. Continental soon raised their stockholding to 50% in Zytek Automotive and then in 2014 became 100% owners after purchasing the full shareholding.
Continental is a global automotive engineering company, with around 134,000 employees and a turnover of €25 billion. Continental’s product portfolio and engineering skills perfectly compliment those of Zytek Automotive and the company looks forward to another period of sustained growth.