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UK group is developing EV drivetrain with no rare earths
Published:  20 September, 2011

A consortium of three UK organisations, led by the Gateshead-based automotive motor controls manufacturer Sevcon, has secured more than £500,000 in matched funding from the UK government to develop a “no rare-earth metals” drive system for hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs), using an advanced switched reluctance motor technology.

The other members of the group are Cummins Generator Technologies, which claims to be the UK’s largest manufacturer of electrical machines, and Newcastle University`s Power Electronics and Drives Research Group. Cummins has recently developed a hybrid electric motor for commercial vehicles and buses.

“Although global demand for hybrid and electric vehicles is likely to grow dramatically over the next 10 years,” says Sevcon’s president and chief executive, Matt Boyle, “the automotive industry`s ability to meet this demand is being challenged by constraints on the availability of the rare-earth magnets used in the motors that drive these vehicles.

“Our goal in this collaborative project is to solve this problem by developing, for volume production, a new electric motor technology that uses cutting-edge power electronics to eliminate the need for magnets incorporating rare-earth metals. As well as providing sufficient power, the new generation system will be designed to be both cost-competitive and suitable for high-volume manufacture.”

According to Boyle, each member of the consortium “brings unique capabilities to the project, ideally positioning us to succeed in this challenging initiative.”

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