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Integrated motor and controls will save space and weight in EVs
Published:  13 February, 2011

A company called Sevcon, based in Gateshead, UK, is developing an integrated motor and control system for use in electric and hybrid vehicles. The Integra system combines a brushless permanent magnet AC motor with an inverter, a universal shaft and a fan, and is designed to replace separate drivetrain components with a single compact, high-efficiency system, thus saving space and weight.

The system (shown above) will be able to provide traction power for all-electric vehicles, or battery-charging and range-extending functions for hybrid vehicles. It will cover power ratings from 4–17kW and will operate from battery voltages in the range 12–80V – with the initial version being targeted at 48V systems. Applications could include on- or off-road electric vehicles, including bikes, as well as industrial vehicles such as forklifts.

“The combination of motor and controller is not new, but Integra offers huge performance advantages over existing technology,” explains Sevcon chief executive, Matt Boyle. “The integrated electronic system allows previously separate components to be replaced by a single, more compact application with space-saving advantages.

“There’s a real market need for this,” he adds. “Over the past 12 months, we have had enquiries from several large OEMs interested in the Integra concept. They want a small motor and controller to take the load off internal combustion engines and act as a generator during operation.”

Integra’s compact size is said to give it a power-to-volume ratio ten times greater than previous designs. “It also achieves a level of efficiency over and above anything else commercially available,” Boyle asserts.

In hybrid electric vehicles‚ the Integra system will reduce the load on the engine by using stored electrical energy to power ancillary systems. The integrated variable speed drive will allow the system to operate in a power-saving mode.

Sevcon, founded in 1961, specialises in controls for low-emission vehicles. It has subsidiaries in France, Japan, Korea and the US. The company has recently won an order from Peugeot to supply controllers for its new e-Vivacity electric scooter which is due to go on sale soon. The scooter will have a range of 60km at 45km/h.

In another recent order, Sevcon is supplying the controls for an electric motorcycle (shown above) which is due to go on sale in Europe later this year. The Enertia Plus bike, developed by US-based Brammo, will have a top speed of about 100km/h and range of around 130km. Sevcon is supplying the controls for the bike’s 13kW sealed, brushless permanent magnet AC motor, which draws 80A and delivers 40Nm of torque. The $8,995 bike will be powered by an 88.8V, 6kWh lithium-ion battery.

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