• Sep 23, 2011
A group of specialist engineering technology firms is set to embark on the development of next-generation electric-drive systems that do not require rare earth metals. UK-based Sevcon will lead the collaborative project that includes Cummins Generator Technologies and Newcastle University's Power Electronics and Drives Research Group to develop traction drive units for use in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric-only vehicles.

The consortium has secured over £500,000 ($781,050 U.S. at the current exchange rate) in matched funding from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

The team will work on the development of a "no-rare-earth-metals" electric drive system using advanced, switched reluctance motor technology. The group looks to overcome the need for rare earths by developing a technology that uses steel instead of the contested materials. It's anticipated that the consortium-developed traction motors will be ready for volume production within four years.
Show full PR text
Sevcon Leads Consortium to Develop New Drivetrain Technology for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

Company Partners with Cummins Generator Technology and Newcastle University


SOUTHBOROUGH, Mass., Sept. 19, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Sevcon, Inc. (Nasdaq:SEV), a global manufacturer of microprocessor based controls for zero emission electric vehicles, today announced that it is leading a collaborative project to develop a next generation of electric drivetrain systems for hybrid and pure electric vehicles (EVs).

Consisting of UK-based Cummins Generator Technologies and Newcastle University's Power Electronics and Drives Research Group along with Sevcon, the group has secured more than £500,000 in matched UK government funding to develop a highly innovative "no rare earth metals" electric drive system for EVs using advanced switched reluctance motor technology.

"Although global demand for hybrid and electric vehicles is likely to grow dramatically over the next 10 years, 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," said Sevcon President and CEO Matt Boyle. "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."

"Each member of this newly formed consortium brings unique capabilities to the project, ideally positioning us to succeed in this challenging initiative," Boyle said. "Our decades of experience in the field have earned Sevcon worldwide recognition as a leading supplier of advanced motor control technology to the international EV market. Cummins Generator Technologies, the largest manufacturer of electrical machines in the UK, has recently developed a hybrid electric motor for commercial vehicles and buses. Newcastle University augments this automotive drivetrain engineering and manufacturing experience by providing state-of-the-art EV research capability."

About Sevcon, Inc.

Sevcon is a world leader in the design and manufacture of microprocessor based controls for zero emission electric vehicles. The controls are used to vary the speed and movement of vehicles, to integrate specialized functions, and to optimize the energy consumption of the vehicle's power source. The company supplies customers throughout the world from its operations in the USA, the UK, France and the Asia Pacific region and through an international dealer network. Sevcon's customers are manufacturers of on and off road vehicles including cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, fork lift trucks, aerial lifts, mining vehicles, airport tractors, sweepers and other electrically powered vehicles. For more information visit www.sevcon.com.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 19 Comments
      Timo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Like copper and iron? I didn't know those were rare earth metals. Funny thing that they need an "group of specialist engineering technology firms" to figure out what Nikola Tesla did 100 years ago. Someone is making easy money.
        Chris M
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Timo
        The motor they're making uses copper and iron (steel is an iron alloy), but it isn't using permanent magnets with rare earth alloys. The principle is different than an induction motor, it uses a series of electromagnets that switch on in sequence to attract and move the ribs on a steel rotor. The advantage is that it can hold in one position or rotate at a precise speed, like a permanent magnet motor can, something an induction motor doesn't do. It's less expensive than a permanent magnet motor, too. The downside is that efficiency and torque are not as good as permanent magnet motors or induction motors, and they tend to be somewhat heavier as well.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Correct me if I am wrong, but hasn't AC propulsion always been using induction motors with no rare earths in them?
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        They may be referring to a rare earth-free synchronous motor (which excludes induction motors).
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        It''s a switched reluctance engine, whatever that is: 'The project being undertaken by the Sevcon-led group will work on the development of a novel “no rare earth metals” electric drive system for EVs using advanced high torque density switched reluctance motor technology.' http://www.greencarcongress.com/2011/09/sevcon-20110921.html#more
          JP
          • 3 Years Ago
          Ele Truk Nissan uses a synchronous AC motor, with rare earth magnets.
          Ele Truk
          • 3 Years Ago
          I think a switched reluctance motor is what the Nissan Leaf uses. The main advantage is that it doesn't require a 3-phase sine wave inverter. You can run it with a simpler drive system that only has to switch the field windings on and off in sequence. This theoretically can create a more efficient drive system.
          Chris M
          • 3 Years Ago
          A switched reluctance motor can hold at a set position, and can rotate at a precise rate, something an induction motor doesn't do. That is a trait shared with the permanent magnet motors used in the Prius and similar hybrids, due to their hybrid design that trait is practically a requirement for at least one of the motor/generators used. But one drawback is that switched reluctance motors can't do regenerative braking, unlike induction motors or permanent magnet motors.
          Timo
          • 3 Years Ago
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched_reluctance_motor I don't see the advantage this gives over ordinary AC induction motor, so can't say if there is anything worth investigating here. Of course all kinds of science research are good, but is it worth that much money, when this one can't give much better result than AC induction? That's like getting lots of money to conduct a research to determine is it better to use fork or a spoon to eat piece of pie.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        yes. There are a few other motor manufacturers out there too making rare-earth free motors too. Tesla is running a rare-earth free motor as we speak in their roadster.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        And doesn't Tesla Motor's Roadster, Model S (and probably the upcoming CUV from the Toyota collaboration)... use AC induction motors with no rare earth metals???
      Breconeer
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is the 'Sev' part of their name anything to do with Smith Electric Vehicles? Prior to Smith becoming a US company, their HQ has been at Gateshead in northeast England for the past 80+ years. Sevcon is also headquartered at Gateshead in northeast England.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      In the ebike world, magnet prices have shot out the roof recently, up 50% - 60%. China is done doing the walmart thing where they push all the competition out, now they're asking major $ for neodymium etc. Good going, sevcon. This is a move that needs to be done.
        Richard Gozinya
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Magnet prices have shot up in all markets, at least ones that use neodymium. Which is used more and more in speakers, among other things.
      Marco Polo
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's late at night in the secret enclave of special CCP committee meeting in Baotou City. The Chairman of the Party's Special Directorate for Bayan Obo Mining District, Baiyunkuang District Inner Mongolia, banged his fist down on a map of the Nanling Mountains. "Why wasn't this Sevcon Group purchased or offered better facilities in the PRC", he screamed at his ashen faced 'comrades', " why weren't these bastards, bought and shut down forever" ! "Bloody hell" , how will we ever dominate the westerner's if we can't even carry out the simplest of tasks?" he growled. The room was silent, each man thinking fearfully of the reaction this news would create in Beijing. After a long pause the youngest delegate spoke up respectfully, "when I studied in the West, I made friends with some executives of a Western Oil company, they could advise us how to discretely shut these devils down." For a while the mood in the room brightened! Yes, if anyone could do it, it was oil company, just look at all the years they had been successfully buying, and killing technology (not just technology)! But just as quickly hope was dashed as the Chairman, looking straight at the Representatives from the PRC's three oil companies, muttered," Chevron, ExxonMobile, Shell, those bastards! The price would be too high, such devils".... he shivered, the room was silent, the fear palpable. The youngest delegate's mouth was dry and his stomach was trembling, no was his chance,..."Perhaps, he wheedled to the desperate committee, perhaps I could just ask what favour they would want in return?" High above the satellite was transmitting the deliberations of the meeting to BP's newest recruit, James Bond, who smiled at the thought what an excellent 'asset' the young delegate was becoming.........
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, an earth free electric drive systems. That sounds fancy. Does this mean it works in space?
        methos1999
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        don't be stupid - you know the title means "rare earth [element]" free and not "rare, earth free". People that go to blogs to quibble over grammar rather than the point of the article drive me nuts. Besides, you know neither AB nor ABG ever fixes spelling or grammatical errors.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm w/ the others here... Aren't AC induction motors "rare-earth element free"? Also, they're gentler on powertrain pieces due to a non-linear torque curve, and in normal driving can be as efficient as other motors? The electronics are expensive(the common argument against), but that really seems to be due to lack of market, rather than anything inherent in the controller electrics...
      BipDBo
      • 3 Years Ago
      Steel so often gets dismissed as just "cheap", but it is really a wonderfully versatile material.
    • Load More Comments