New Electric Motors Need No Neodymium Magnets

2. August 2021 | Technologies

Automotive supplier Mahle intends advancing its new concept to series-production readiness within the next few years.

The Stuttgart-based automotive supplier Mahle is currently researching a completely new drive concept for e-motors. Mahle first went public with the project at the beginning of May. The new concept should be able to completely forego magnets and therefore also the use of neodymium. This makes production not only more environment friendly but also offers advantages in terms of cost and the security of supply of raw materials, writes Mahle in a press release. The central feature of the new motor is the inductive and therefore contact-free power transmission. As a result, the engine runs free of wear and particularly efficiently, especially at high engine speeds. Mahle specifies the efficiency factor of the magnet-free e-motor as “over 95 %”. Martin Berger, Head of Corporate Research and Preliminary Development at Mahle, states: “It would be fair to say that our magnet-free motor is a breakthrough, combining, as it does, a number of benefits which it was not previously possible to bring together in one product”. Michael Frick, interim CEO and CFO of the group, stresses: “In addition to the geopolitical advantages, the foregoing of magnets and, consequently, of rare earths offers great potential in terms of responsibility towards nature and resources.”

Simply scalable

In point of fact, both the stator and the rotor of the engine are assembled from coils. “The power is transferred to the rotors by means of induction. This makes the motor wear-free and particularly efficient, especially at high engine speeds,” writes Automobil Industrie. The costs for the more sophisticated electronics are offset by the savings on neodymium magnets. Taken as whole, the drive should be comparatively economical. According to the Mahle press release, the new development lends itself more easily to scaling and could therefore be suitable for a whole range of uses, from small cars to commercial vehicles. In around two-and-a-half years, according to Automobil Industrie, the new concept should be ready to go into production.

Photo: Mahle

California MP_Materials