Ticking Time Bomb

Revolutionary electric motor PDF Print E-mail
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As vehicle manufacturers battle to come up with the ultimate environmentally friendly electric cars of the future, YASA Motors has entered the fray with a motor that is lighter, smaller and, ultimately, cheaper to produce than its rivals.

The YASA (Yokeless and Segmented Armature) motor combines a revolutionary redesign of the magnetics in an electric motor, a clever cooling system and mechanical packaging. This results in a motor, YASA says, that is up to 60pc smaller and, at around 10kg, four times lighter than the 2010 Toyota Prius motor with a 30pc greater power output.

“We’re looking at installing these high-performance electric motors in the new generation of electric and hybrid vehicles that will come on to the market in 2016/2017 as the design cycle for a new vehicle is four to five years,” says Tim Woolmer, 30, YASA’s founder and chief technology officer, who invented the motor for his DPhil project at Oxford University.

The company has just been named the UK’s Best Enterprise in the Lloyds TSB/Telegraph Enterprise Awards and wins £50,000. “[It]will go towards new lab equipment and an upgraded test facility – something we couldn’t have contemplated for at least another year,” says Woolmer.

With innovation in his blood (his grandfather helped develop the jet engine), Dr Woolmer came up with the YASA’s design when Oxford University won a grant to construct a motor for electric sports cars.

“We started with a completely blank sheet as the university had never designed anything of this sort before, which was great as we weren’t bound by any existing technology,” says Woolmer, whose company launched in 2009 with £1.5m of investment and saw £600,000 of sales last year.

YASA, which is backed by a large investment fund, is rapidly expanding, with 20 full-time staff and a target of 30 by the end of this year. A new 7,000 sq ft facility in Abingdon is planned where up to 4,000 motors can be made each year.

The YASA motor has uses beyond the car industry, too, with Woolmer currently looking at ways of increasing sales in the agricultural, marine, aerospace and construction industries, which all have a need for lightweight electric motors.

“Big excavators, for example, are very inefficient as they require an enormous diesel engine to move their equipment. To save fuel, manufacturers are moving to hybrids that use an electric motor. Our lightweight high-efficiency motors make a significant difference,” Woolmer explains.

In the automotive sector, YASA Motors is responding to the great need for low-carbon-emission vehicles in the UK and beyond. “All car manufacturers are working on the next platform and we want to be part of that,” says Woolmer.

“Electric cars will take some time to become popular as they are still relatively expensive to buy. But by reducing the magnetic materials in the motor, we are helping to make electric cars far cheaper to produce.”

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