Elaphe & McLaren team up on powertrain development


Slovenia’s electric motor specialist Elaphe has agreed on a strategic partnership with McLaren Applied. They are developing a powertrain that combines Elaphe’s in-wheel motors and vehicle control with McLaren Applied’s inverter technology.

Specifically, Elaphe will use McLaren’s 800 V silicon carbide (SiC) inverter IPG5. The partners claim their combined electric drive would offer automakers significant space and weight savings for reduced vehicle energy consumption and five times faster torque response compared to existing systems. As a further advantage, Elaphe and the British technology company emphasise vehicle design freedom (due to the smaller installation space of the drive).

Elaphe’s current in-wheel motors exhibit torque densities of up to 460 Nm/litre and 100 Nm/kg. At the same time, the company mentions their motors would offer a high control bandwidth of each wheel, allowing customers to define and change the driving character of their e-car via software tuning.

However, wheel hub motors have not yet become established in large-scale production cars. Elaphe’s products are reportedly used in the Lordstown Endurance e-pickup, the Lightyear 0 and, in future, also by the US start-up Aptera. So far, these vehicles have only been produced in manageable numbers – still, Elaphe claims have achieved an energy efficiency of over 97 per cent in these applications, according to today’s update.

McLaren Applied’s inverter is praised for offering “unrivalled gravimetric and volumetric power density of 90kVA/kg and 130kVA/L respectively, variable switching frequency, and efficiency of up to 99%”. This is said to improve the vehicle’s overall efficiency and “provide unparalleled driving dynamics,” so the statement.

McLaren Applied has had SiC technology in development for many years. The McLaren P1 hybrid hypercar in 2012 and Formula 1 and Formula E racing cars use the technology, for example.

Elaphe is presenting its software and hardware solutions at its stand at CES in Las Vegas and also brought the IPG5 inverter from McLaren Applied.

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