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UK partners are developing `disruptive` EV drivetrain

16 March, 2011

The motor developer Oxford Yasa Motors and the Gateshead-based electric vehicle (EV) controls specialist Sevcon have formed a business alliance to develop an integrated electric motor and controller package that, they say, will set new standards in EV drivetrain efficiency, packaging and performance.

The two companies are collaborating to integrate the Yasa (yokeless and segmented armature) direct-drive motor with a Sevcon 400V controller for use in all-electric and hybrid EVs. Previously separate components will be replaced by a single, compact two-wheel drive system offering a combined torque-to-weight of more than 30Nm/kg – claimed to be up to four times better than its closest rivals – in the volume typically occupied by a conventional differential.

The collaboration will be led by Mike Dowsett, Oxford Yasa Motors’ vice-president of business development (above), who will report to Oxford Yasa’s CEO, Nick Farrant, and Sevcon’s president and CEO, Matt Boyle.

Farrant, describes the planned integrated motor-control package as “highly disruptive”, adding that it “breaks with convention, presenting automotive customers with a unique option for high-performance direct-drive vehicle applications”.

Oxford Yasa Motors was formed in 2009 to commercialise an axial-flux motor technology originally developed by Oxford University’s Energy and Power Group. The Yasa motor offers a high specific torque (torque-to-weight ratio), a high efficiency (typically up to 95%) and the possibility for low-cost manufacturing.

The motor’s stator is formed from a series of magnetically separated segments. A 500Nm version, developed for EVs, is 34cm in diameter and 7cm wide, and fits in the space normally occupied by a conventional front or rear differential (which is no longer needed). The motors can deliver a peak torque of 700Nm (for one minute) and a continuous torque of 400Nm.

Oxford Yasa Motors and
Oxford Brookes University recently secured more than £100k of government funding for a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership to improve the production potential of the Yasa motors. Using advanced materials and joining technologies, the project aims to cut manufacturing times and materials costs. Part of the project will investigate ways to disassemble the motors at the end of their lives to reclaim their components.

Oxford Yasa Motors is targeting the automotive, aerospace, marine and industrial markets where torque, efficiency and low motor mass are critical ingredients for high-performance drives.

Sevcon is a global leader in designing and manufacturing microprocessor controls for zero-emission electric vehicles. Its latest controllers can control either AC asynchronous or PM AC synchronous motors and are said to be the smallest in the industry, relative to their power output. It recently announced that it is developing its own
integrated motor and control system for use in electric and hybrid vehicles.

Sevcon has operations in the UK, the US, France and the Far East. Its customers are manufacturers of on- and off-road vehicles including cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, forklifts, airport tractors and other electrically powered vehicles.




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