UK consortium to develop rare earth-free electric-drive system

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.
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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

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