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22 April, 2018

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Axial-flux motor-maker opens plant and attracts £15m

01 February, 2018

Yasa, the UK electric motor manufacturer which claims to be the world’s leading producer of axial-flux motors and controllers, has opened a factory in Oxford with the capacity to produce 100,000 motors a year. The company has also raised a further £15m in growth funding, bringing the total raised so far to £35m.

The new plant, employing around 150 people, will help Yasa to meet the growing demand for its products – 80% of which are exported to automotive manufacturers across the world, including China.

This £15m investment follows the signing of long-term development and supply agreements with some of these automotive customers. Yasa’s CEO, Dr Chris Harris, says that the funding will enable the company “to further invest in the volume production capacity necessary to meet our customers’ requirements, and to address markets beyond automotive, including aerospace and marine”.

The new facility has been opened by Greg Clark, the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. “Yasa is a brilliant example of what can be achieved when government, academia and industry come together to turn the best ideas from the best minds into scale-up companies,” he said at the ceremony.

Yasa’s axial-flux motors are said to offer “best-in-class” power and torque densities and are suitable for both hybrid and pure-electric vehicles. The technology gives automotive manufacturers the design flexibility to improve vehicle performance, while reducing vehicle weight. It also helps them to meet emissions targets whilst delivering “exciting” driving experiences.

Yasa – which was founded in 2009 as a spinout from Oxford University, and whose name is derived from “yokeless and segmented armature” – has worked with automotive manufacturers including Nissan and Williams Advanced Engineering. Its axial-flux motors have also been tested in hovercraft and could be used in aerospace applications, where high power and torque densities are critical.

Jaguar used four Yasa motors in its C-X75 concept hybrid-electric sportscar, potentially allowing it to deliver the speed of a Bugatti Veyron, but the emissions of a Toyota Prius. (Plans to put the £1m supercar into production were cancelled in 2012 because of the global economic crisis.)

Yasa’s P400 series of electric motors and generators, launched in 2015, are claimed to be the smallest and lightest in their class. They produce up to 370Nm of peak torque (300Nm continuous) and 160kW of peak power (100kW continuous) from a minimum axial length of just 80.4mm. The motors operate over the speed range of 0–8,000 rpm, with a peak efficiency of 96%. They have oil-cooled stators with the option of rotor air cooling. With weights starting at 24kg, the motors offer power densities of up to 6.7kW/kg.

Yasa's axial-flux motors are said to offer “best-in-class” power and torque densities

Investors in the new round of funding in Yasa include Universal Partners and Parkwalk Advisors. Andrew Birrell of Universal Partners, who has joined Yasa’s board, says that the company’s “unique and highly differentiated axial-flux motor technology … offers clear advantages in terms of power and torque density compared to their competition in class".

Alastair Kilgour, chief investment officer at Parkwalk, adds that “with the rapid growth of electrification in automotive and other sectors such as aerospace and marine, we believe Yasa has huge business potential.”

“With the right support and investment,” says Yasa CEO Chris Harris, “companies like Yasa can become the powerhouse of the UK’s future economy, creating a wide range of high-skilled jobs and benefiting the communities of which they are a part”.

♦  In his speech at the Yasa factory opening, Industry Secretary Clark also announced an investment of £184m, as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy, for 41 UK universities to help train the next generation of engineers and scientists. The money will support doctoral training partnerships (DTPs) that fund four-year doctoral studentships, providing UK and international students with PhD training in science, engineering and mathematics. The DTPs will support students entering training in the academic years starting in 2018 and 2019.




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