Bentley Motors looks to the future of electric drive06 August 2020

Luxury carmaker Bentley Motors has begun a three-year research programme that promises to transform electric vehicle powertrains, utilising a fully integrated, free from rare-earth magnet e-axle to supports electric vehicle architectures.

The study follows an initial 18-month investigation that delivered a technological breakthrough in electric drive systems for high-performance vehicles. Building on the UK’s leading electronics research, this electric drive system proof-of-concept exceeded the latest permanent magnet motor performance while simultaneously removing the need for both rare-earth magnets and copper windings, delivering a package both cost effective and recyclable at its end of life.

The new programme, termed OCTOPUS, will take this leading-edge motor, power electronics and packaging transmission design, adding next generation materials, manufacturing processes, simulation and test cycles to deliver a full e-axle powertrain with unique levels of integration and revolutionary performance characteristics suitable for real world application by 2026.

Commenting on the project, Stefan Fischer, director of powertrain engineering at Bentley Motors, said: “Today there remain challenges and package constraints on the viability and flexibility of electric vehicle powertrains that are able to fully support EV architectures. With the industry, technologies and cars changing faster than ever before, research projects such as OCTOPUS are crucial to deliver innovative technologies and overcome challenges for the next generation of mobility solutions.”

OCTOPUS is an OLEV funded project delivered in partnership with Innovate UK which brings together the following partners with distinct roles and responsibilities:

Bentley Motors – Specification setting, vehicle integration plan and system test

Advanced Electric Machines Ltd – Motor manufacturing and systems assembly

Advanced Electric Machines Research Ltd – Motor and transmission design

The Thinking Pod Innovations Ltd & Nottingham University – Power electronics optimisation and alternative wide band gap system design

The Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) at the University of Bath – Integrated system analysis and proof of concept validation testing

HiETA Technologies Ltd – AM component design and manufacture for thermal management including stator core housing, power electronics and E-axle oil cooling

FD Sims Ltd – Next generation wire technology development

Talga Technologies Ltd – 2D materials development for next generation winding technologies

Diamond Light Source – UK’s national synchrotron light source providing access to X-ray facilities for measurements

Hartree Centre (Science and Technology Facilities Council) – Advanced system testing and co-simulation toolkit development

William Dalrymple

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