When a high-performance sports car breaks the world speed record in its class, an Auckland high-tech manufacturer will almost certainly take a large slice of the credit.
Dodson Motorsport, based in Glenfield, has carved out a global reputation for its state-of-the-art dual clutch transmissions – and the established company sponsors up to 20 of the fastest sports cars in the world to help promote its product.
"We work with guys (in the United States, Dubai and Russia) who push the limits and set the standards globally. They also help us with product development," says Dodson Motorsport general manager, Steven Parker. "Once they achieve the (speed) records, other owners take note and want to run with Dodson product."
A Nissan R35 GTR using the Dodson dual clutch transmission set a new quarter-mile world record, covering the distance in 7.01 seconds at 209 miles per hour. A Mitsubishi Evo X recorded 9.433s at 160.6mph, and a Porsche 991 Turbo 9.1s at 158mph.
World leader in clutch components
Dodson Motorsport has also upgraded the clutch systems for VW, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lamborghini. After first operating in 2000, Dodson Motorsport has become a world leader in aftermarket dual clutch transmission components for high-end and performance vehicles.
Made from high tensile steel and aluminium using computer aided design (CAD) and CNC machining, Dodson’s patented components are renowned for handling higher horsepower and torque, reducing heat, and improving grip and reliability.
"As the car manufacturers rolled out dual clutches more than 10 years ago, Dodson found unique ways to redesign and modify the transmission," says Parker. "We concentrated on high strength and high performance, and developed a niche market. We were not driven by (reducing) cost but providing the best possible outcome.
"Our transmission works automatically and enables very quick gear changes – done in a fraction of seconds with the push of a button. A Nissan GTR might go through four to six gear changes in seven seconds to get to the 200mph mark. Everything must be happening at lightning speed."
One of Dodson Motorsport’s latest developments was cutting open the sealed clutch unit of the Porsche and making it serviceable rather than disposable.
We have a solid development pipeline to ensure we have the right products in the market between 2017 and 2020.”
Global network of dealerships
Dodson Motorsport, founded by automotive engineer Glenn Cupit and Harry Dodson of Dodson Autospares, supplies 175 authorised dealers in 50 countries and has become one of New Zealand’s top 250 exporters based on turnover. Each dealer is connected to a workshop whose staff are trained to handle Dodson components.
"Certainly in the last two to three years we have seen strong growth – at 25 per cent annually," says Parker. "We expect that to continue – our growth is not really limited at this stage.
"We are releasing more products, we have a design pipeline running for the next three years, and we are diversifying into other brands of vehicles and new markets."
Dodson Motorsport upgraded the Porsche 4WD clutch from a sealed unit and produced a protective carry case for car owners to send the clutch for servicing.
Dodson Motorsport doubled its staff during 2015 and 2016, and it contracts work to numerous local manufacturers, keeping another local skilled tradespeople busy. Dodson assembles and despatches the dual clutch transmission components.
With the support of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), Dodson Motorsport relies heavily on research and development – it’s R&D team has grown from two to seven over two years, led by talented designer Cupit.
"ATEED guided us in a number of areas as the business matured," says Parker. "They pointed out areas where we can get a bit more professional and made sure we were getting the maximum benefits for growing a business. There is a lot of support out there and it’s good to have a point of contact such as ATEED.’’