How magnetless motors are powering the future.
Disadvantages of traditional motors for electric vehicles.
Despite their green credentials, electric vehicles face challenges such as limited range and dependence on expensive rare-earth elements used in permanent magnet (PM) motors. These PM motors, while efficient, run on materials such as neodymium due to the high cost of mining it and geopolitical supply risks – mainly due to China’s dominance of the market.
The advantage of magnetless motors.
In contrast, the latest magnetless induction motors developed by MAHLE and ZF are economical, reliable and free of rare earth elements. The modern design utilizes copper field coils, eliminating the need for permanent magnets. This approach not only addresses the ethical and environmental concerns associated with rare earth element mining, but also avoids geopolitical risks.
MAHLE’s groundbreaking design.
MAHLE engine efficiency exceeds 96%, which is on par with even Formula E powertrains. This is achieved through contactless, wireless energy transfer from the stator to the rotor, minimizing energy loss and mechanical wear. Such a system promises to reduce cost and improve reliability, potentially increasing the range of electric vehicles and reducing “range anxiety” among users.
Compact and powerful ZF engine.
ZF Friedrichshafen takes a different approach, offering a synchronous motor with inductive excitation inside the rotor that dispenses with the physical contacts common in traditional designs, increasing reliability and power density. Designed to integrate seamlessly into a variety of vehicle types, this motor occupies the same footprint as PM motors, giving manufacturers the flexibility to switch to it without changing vehicle architecture.
Electronic Drive Platforms: Next Step.
ZF plans to use these motors in its e-drive platform, offering both 400-volt and 800-volt versions for standard and fast-charging vehicles. By utilizing silicon carbide chips in the 800-volt version, ZF is positioning itself as an efficient and durable manufacturer in the high-powered electric vehicle market.
Implications for the electric vehicle market.
These developments by MAHLE and ZF could lead to EV vehicles that are not only more environmentally friendly and socially responsible, but also more affordable for the average consumer. By solving the range problem and reducing dependence on rare earth elements, these magnetless motors could accelerate the mass adoption of electric vehicles.
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