Mahle has announced the development of a new type of magnet-free electric motor that does not require rare earth materials and is suitable for use in all vehicle classes. In addition, the motor is said to be particularly efficient in most driving conditions.
The new, as yet unnamed traction motor from Mahle is said to offer an efficiency of over 95 per cent in the most commonly used driving conditions of the drive system, according to the supplier: “a level that previously has only been achieved by Formula E racing cars”.
According to the press release, the central feature of the new motor is inductive, and thus contactless, power transmission. This is supposed to make the motor wear-free and particularly efficient at high speeds. Even though keywords such as “magnet-free” and “inductive” make it seem obvious, Mahle does not mention in the press release that it is a separately excited asynchronous machine with a contactless transformer. A spokesperson confirmed this, however.
The ASM is being developed as a scalable unit and should therefore be able to be used “from small to commercial vehicles”. Mahle does not yet want to give a framework for the performance data, the installation space, or the drive units’ weight.
“With our new electric motor, we’re living up to our responsibility as a sustainably operating company,” says Michael Frick, Interim Chairman of the Group Management Board and CFO. “Dispensing with magnets and therefore the use of rare earth elements offers great potential not only from a geopolitical perspective but also concerning the responsible use of nature and resources.”
In principle, asynchronous motors are not new and are already used in numerous electric cars. Martin Berger, Head of Mahle Group Research and Advanced Development, is nevertheless convinced that the new development “could certainly be described as a breakthrough” because it combines “because it provides several advantages that have not yet been combined in a product of this type”. “As a result, we can offer our customers a product with outstanding efficiency at a comparatively low cost,” Berger summarises.
In the development process, Mahle is primarily relying on innovative simulation methods. In this process, various engine designs are to be varied along with different parameters until an optimum is reached. Compared to conventional methods, this is faster and more cost-effective, according to Mahle. According to a spokesperson, production should start in “two to three years”.