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Evans Electric disc-type axial flux in-wheel motor – Click above to watch a video after the break

Are we soon to witness an all-electric, compact four-door sedan rocket from 0-60 miles an hour in a jaw-dropping sub-three second flash? If Australian start-up Evans Electric has the goods it says it's confident it has, then yes. After three years of development, the stealthy Sydney-based company is just about ready to reveal a new disc-type axial flux three-phase AC induction wheel motor in formidable fashion.

Within the next couple of months, using a vehicle that has seen success on the World Rally Championship scene equipped with a copy of the aforementioned 70 kW (95 horsepower) motor hidden away in each of its 19-inch wheels, a demonstration will be held that could propel the company from unknown to renowned faster than you can say super-axial-flux-alistic. For a peek at the motor being tested during its development, hit the jump for a trio of brief videos.

[Source: Electric Vehicle News]







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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 32 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The issue here isn't durability. It is expense. Even though 4 motors are smaller than 1 big motor, it is still going to cost a lot more money to build 4 than 1.

      Then you need for power control modules, because you almost certainly need some kind of individual wheel control, so again a lot more expensive.

      Then you need much better command control SW. Again more expensive.

      This really isn't tackling a major EV problem (batteries) but is simply giving you neat AWD at an incredibly high price.

        • 5 Years Ago
        The driveline losses occur almost exclusively in the transmission with the differential coming in at a distant second.

        EVs don't have transmissions (with the exception of a few conversions).

        So the benefit of a hub motor is merely the AWD traction control. And this can be achieved by simply having 4 motors just prior to the wheels (sprung). The CV joints will be the only thing needed. And they are cheap, reliable, and do not account for a noticeable loss.

        The Active Wheel suspension system is more complex than than a traditional suspension by far. It seems to be a neat concept... but since it offers no real advantage in comparison to simpler systems, it is a non-starter.

        Ride height can already be dynamically altered using hydraulic suspension. Although it seems nobody uses it for ride performance.

        @TheTom
        Congrats on the new profile pic
        • 5 Years Ago
        This has nothing to do with the Michelin concept. Michelin concept isn't even a hub motor, it is a gear driven wheel motor.

        Quad motors/control can't be anything but more expensive, than one motor/control hooked up at the differentialy. You have 4 times as many motors, 4 times as many controllers, both fairly expensive items.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Where did you see anything about cost? How do you know it will be soooo expensive?

        Here's a fair question: what is the cost of transmission, driveshaft, differential, springs, struts, shocks, brakes that will be avoided by using the Michellin Active Wheel system?

        What is the cost, in lost efficiency, of having all of the above? Driveline losses are 5.6% according to this: http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips/vehicle_energy_losses.html
      • 5 Years Ago
      Didn't Michelin do something like this? Whatever happened to that?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I seem to recall the in-wheel motors used in Peugeot's BB1 concept were Michelin.
        That was just last year so I think they are probably still in .... development, thought... something....
      • 5 Years Ago
      These in-wheel motors are really cool. But yeah, it will be a challenge making them robust enough. And cheap enough.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, I can't find anyone even speculating on their cost.

        I think it's a great idea but one that, unfortunately, isn't yet ready for full production. I hope I am proven wrong very soon, though, because I think the Michellin system is very robust since it can automatically raise or lower the vehicle. That would give ground clearance if and when you need it (floods, off roading, speed bumps and too steep ramps) and lowered to the ground aerodynamics on the freeway. I'd like to be able to choose the setting, of course. I hate riding in an RX7 or other "skateboard" sports cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      PML Flightlink had done this with MINIs as well. To counter Matt's concerns, I believe the PML hub-motored wheels had the same unsprung weight as steel wheels for the MINI, so hub motors don't have to add huge amounts of unsprung weight. Mitsubishi had originally planned hub motors for the i-MIEV, but dropped them. The problems seem to be more related to control programs for acceleration, turning, traction, and regenerative braking than durability.
        • 5 Years Ago
        2010 update on PLM mini:

        http://autoandcars.co.cc/electric-mini-with-pml-wheel-motors.html

        "Electric car EV Mini QED with PML In-Wheel Motors. Car does not run as yet after 5 years of R&D. Same MOCK motor as used in Volvo recharge concept."
        • 5 Years Ago
        I have to agree with snowdog that the unsprung weight does kill most of this set-ups possibilties. But I do see alot of potentail handleing because it would be so easy to steer the car based on changing power to each wheel this would be the ultimate set-up for awd. I wonder if they would use carbon fiber wheels on a set-up like this to try and change the unsprung weight?
        • 5 Years Ago
        My other concerns aside, your comment brings up a very interesting point. Normally, an AWD system can redirect power to wheels that have grip. So, if a car has 380 hp, a majority of that can be directed to one side of the car, front/back, left/right, or in advanced systems it can even be directed to a single wheel. In this arrangement the only option is to decrease power on the slipping wheels if the gripping wheel(s) are already at max power. So, in theory, if only one wheel has traction, you've only got 95 hp. Granted, this is not an everyday occurrence, and it is much simpler than differentials, but not ideal for performance.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I believe you are quite mistaken on the PLM mini hub motors. They looked monstrously huge. They caused the wheels to bulge out beyond the fenders and that is with removing the conventional brakes.

        Unsprung weight will remain an issue, because they only place where I can see the expense of 4 independent hub motor wheels and controllers being met is on a super car.

        Adding an extra 20+ lbs of unstrung weight to each wheels seems like a non starter for a super car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think the Lotus setup was good compromise. Two wheel RWD with dual motors for rear torque vectoring. You can just use a short drive shaft to get rid of the un-sprung weight.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was hoping for an in-vehicle demonstration rather than a cutaway mockup. I look forward to seeing this in an actual vehicle (4x95=380 hp!).
      • 5 Years Ago
      sounds good. for an angle grinder.

      and I got this bad feeling that this cut away look is not just for demonstration but how they actually intend to design it. I can't be bothered to wonder why.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Think the noise could be brushes making contact? It looks like something is definitely rubbing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        if it had the needed torque in that open design then fine. but doubt it.
        the heat build up in a motor is not so much the rotor but the coils in the stator.
        and the disc probably can't be used for mechanical braking. probably too fragile to serve dual purpose but good idea
        • 5 Years Ago
        That motor design is compact, but that noise indicates a problem - perhaps something is misaligned, or something is loose and vibrating that shouldn't be loose and vibrating. Oh, well, maybe it is just an early prototype. Hope they'll be able to solve the noise problems.

        It is interesting to note how the rotor has been modified into a disk and the stator is on one half of the disk only. That does improve heat dissapation. Hmm, makes me wonder if the rotor could also be used for the hydraulic brake...
      • 5 Years Ago
      If this proves to be as good as it sounds then we are all winners, my only point of contention would be the extra weight at the corners of the car, which is a point most tuners try to reduce not add to. Can't wait to see it in demonstration!
      • 5 Years Ago
      AWD, traction control, all wheel regen. It looks like they are still in the early prototype phase, but this design has decent power in a compact design.

      It looks like they are only using 1/2 the available motor area so they could probably scale this up to 200hp per wheel if needed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      That's great and everything, but in-wheel motors have the inherent problem of being... in the wheel. Wheels follow the road, and the road is not flat. You either have an indestructible beast which results in very high unsprung weight, or you have a light-weight maintenance nightmare. Either way, it's hard to win. Look at the way brake disks and calipers are constructed for an idea of what a safe system needs to be structurally sound.

      I'm not saying it's not possible to have a good hub motor. I'm just saying, why do it? That's why they invented the drive shaft.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You don't need a transmission, differential or gearing of any kind to have non-hub motors.

        It is much more of a "simple" design to move those same lightweight motors from the wheel hub a foot or two toward the interior. It adds only the drive shaft and cv joint (which only account for a minuscule loss). This allows you to keep friction brakes. Keep 4 wheel drive traction control. And prevents vibration and shock damage to the motors.

        All this while having the LEAST amount of unsprung weight. Kudos to companies who reduce unsprung weight in other components (rim, lower suspension, and hub parts) enough to accommodate a lightweight motor while being lighter than tradition list of parts below the suspension.

        However, simple disc brake components (pads, caliper, rotor, etc.) are always lighter than even the lightest hub motor that can replace them.

        *note:
        You cannot replace friction braking without making the motor capable of the same torque resistance (regen power) as friction brakes at all rpms... and regen braking is notoriously weak at lower rpm.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Is it really a good idea to completely do away with friction brakes? I mean, I'm sure a system in good working order can be made safe, but I can't help but think it might be a bad idea to let go of a mechanical backup. Electronics are prone to having sudden catastrophic failures because of the possibility of short circuits and "bugs" that may be completely byond our ability to inspect. In acceleration this is less important and you simply don't-go. Stopping is another issue all together; I like being able to do it when I need it. If this whole Toyota debacle has tought us anything, I think it's K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Stupid!
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Matt, @nrb,

        As always, Wikipedia is your friend. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In-wheel_motor and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Wheel

        An in-wheel motor's regenerative braking lets designers reduce or eliminate a conventional brake assembly, which can offset some of the increase in unsprung weight.

        The Michelin Active Wheel makes a virtue of near-necessity; in addition to the wheel motor eliminating all (!) mechanical brakes, "it replaces a mechanical suspension with an active suspension driven by an in-wheel electrical suspension motor that controls torque distribution, traction, turning maneuvers, pitch, roll and suspension damping for that wheel." However, I don't see how Michelin's system avoids the traction motor getting hammered by bumps. My comment from 2008 has the cool YouTube video of the ActiveWheel trick suspension, plus a competitor from Siemens, http://gizmodo.com/comment/9204263 . The Heuliez WILL was supposed to come out in 2010, but two weeks ago "Turkish investor Alphan Manas has agreed to buy French struggling auto maker Heuliez".
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's probably more efficient to eliminate the driveshaft and also the distribution of weight can be optimized, with motors at the wheels and batteries at the center, resulting in a more balanced design. Motor at the wheel probably lowers the center of gravity too and also works as the breaking system, with regenerative braking or reversed to give electromagnetic braking, with 0 friction! Electric motors are usually resistant, and anything big enough to power a car, even if just at one wheel, will be tough by default imo. Or at least I think without actually seeing the car, I may be wrong on some of the above of course.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Matt, you seem to be a fan of K.I.S.S. - keep it simple, stupid. I agree with you 100%. There are thousands of parts in an internal combustion engine. Simple? There are hundreds of parts involved in drivetrain and suspension. Simple? There are some 50 computers in modern internal combustion vehicles. Simple?

        So we both agree that we should all be driving an electric vehicle that has a Michellin Active Wheel system, no internal combustion components, transmission, drive shaft, differential, shocks, struts, springs, etc.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not more efficient to eliminate the shaft, per se, but rather the U-joints, differentials, and transmissions (places where friction occurs or power changes direction). The wheels are subjected to tremendous vertical forces every time they hit a bump or pot hole, essentially hammering the components every time. What's more, "unsprung weight" is the enemy of a comfortable ride. That is, the heavy motors being at the wheels puts them in motion with the wheels as they travel vertically and their momentum upsets the stability of the vehicle. "Big Mo[mentum]" is a B-!-%-C-#
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks nrb. The Michellin Active Wheel system has 2 electric motors at each wheel, one to spin the wheel and another to control the elevation of the wheel. The unsprung weight at each wheel is less than a standard wheel because the motors are lightweight but powerful. It gives you the best of both worlds, no losses due to transmission/differential and weight savings. Plus you can have either 2 or 4 of them depending on the size of the vehicle or amount of hp desired.

        The Venturi Volage was shown at the North America International Auto Show with the Michellin system, here is a good video (drool worthy too) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOLN291DH6M which explains the system quite well.

        This brings up a question in my mind. Since there is an electric motor that controls wheel height, would it be able to provide some regenerative power as you go over bumps in the road?
        • 5 Years Ago
        @TheTom

        Please see Joeviocoe's comment, he hit the nail on the head.

        Beyond that, I agree that internal combustion is far more complicated than an electric motor. Differentials, on the other hand, are relatively simple; they can even work computer-free. Sure, they have maintenance, like, changing bearings or oil, but I'll bet it's nothing compared to a busted stator coil. I'd wager that even though an electric motor can be very simple in concept, the one you get in an electrically motivated vehicle is vastly more complex than a good power distribution system.

        That said, if they were simple enough, a case could be made for a system like the one Joeviocoe describes. Centrally located mass is much easier to handle, and much less prone to destruction thanks to things like shock absorbers and springs. Beyond that, if your vehicle hits a curb or goes through a deep puddle your very precise mechanical device is not the first thing that gets hit. Don't wear your heart on your sleeve, so to speak.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There are only a couple of in wheel motor vehicles that are actually drivable. I can think of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IMIEV and the Eliica. The Eliica is probably the only on that is successful performance wise (although not in terms of handling probably).
        • 5 Years Ago
        While the Eliica used a motor for each wheel - and 8 wheels - they were mounted inboard and connected with a short shaft, thus were not true "wheelmotors". That approach avoided the "unsprung mass" problem, as well as protecting the motors somewhat from excessive vibration.
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