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Mitsubishi Develops Lighter, Smaller Electric Car Motor

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Mitsubishi Electric combined motor and inverter

Mitsubishi Electric combined motor and inverter

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Weight, we're told, is the enemy of the car.

The more of it you have, the more of it you need to overcome. Efficiency takes a turn for the worse, performance suffers, handling becomes less nimble--the problems are many.

In electric cars, that makes the job of improving range more difficult. To this end, says Drives & Controls, Mitsubishi Electric is developing a new electric motor for use in electric cars, half the size and significantly lighter than current units.

That means packaging can be improved, but also, less weight for the motor itself to lug about.

The permanent magnet electric motor has an integrated silicon carbide inverter - the same diameter as the motor itself - which Mitsubishi claims is the smallest of its kind. At the moment, Mitsubishi electric vehicles use a separate motor and inverter, which requires more space for the components and cabling.

Silicon carbide allows for thinner, and therefore less resistant chips, lowering electrical losses - by up to 50 percent compared to regular silicon-based inverters. The motor itself is more magnetically efficient, and allows for a 5 percent increase in power compared to existing motors.

What all that means for the end user in their electric car is more space available for passengers and batteries, greater performance, and greater efficiency.

The combined motor and inverter isn't in production just yet, but Mitsubishi Electric plans to commercialize the unit once development has finished.

Is there a Mitsubishi i electric car with an updated motor on the way? Watch this space.

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Comments (9)
  1. The Tesla Model S really impresses me with the space freed up by no longer having a gasoline engine.
     
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  2. And it sounds like electric drivetrains are only going to continue to shrink. I think it was brilliant move on Tesla's part to show off this advantage in the Model S, and it sounds like Midsubishi is on the same track and bringing more innovation.
     
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  3. And if the S impresses you, the X impresses even more. Lots of interior space in relation to the exterior dimensions there.
     
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  4. Way to go Mitsubishi!!! If anyone did it, we knew it wasn't going to be "drag our heels to the very end" American fossil fuel automakers. The big three American automakers will probably declare your new motor too dangerous to use in American autos since it will extend the electric range of the battery and make more room for humans...and you don't want all those teenagers crowding in the car like that with their texting and yacking on their cell phones; that would be too dangerous.
     
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  5. This uses neodymium rare-earth magnets - isn't that concern from a renewability standpoint?
    How much of a weight savings is this? I assumed that the weight of the batteries are much more significant
     
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  6. The weight savings are probably small compared to the battery, but every little bit helps.

    The higher levels of integration (motor and inverter) are probably more significant. Think about it. They don't need to run heavy wires between the motor and inverter which may result in some savings in weight. Additionally, if the inverter and motor need liquid cooling, it would be nice to only need to run coolant lines to a single motor/inverter module.
     
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  7. Neodymium is a problem since China has the monopoly at this point and is abusing this position to squeeze supply and drive up prices. This tech could be uneconomical until new rare earth production outside of China comes on line.
     
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  8. Neodymium is a problem since China has the monopoly at this point and is abusing this position to squeeze supply and drive up prices. This tech could be uneconomical until new rare earth production outside of China comes on line.

    Chris O - Mitsubishi should check Mexico or the panhandle area of Idaho for these metals. Idaho is ripe for development and much ore, silver and some gold have already been mined there.
     
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  9. Really while this is an advancement it is not a large one. The major considerations will need to be addressed with other factors beyond the power plant and support systems. A trend with autos in the last 20 years has driven up the weight of cars significantly for no reason I can think of. The Mitsubishi iMiev weighs in at around 2400lbs which is almost the same as a 95 Civic Coupe which is almost double the size. This has been happening across the board for all cars so I believe this is something beyond the power plant. Also since even with ICE and EV systems (with lead acid batteries) weigh in at about the same curb weight in the same platform. I am not sure where this weight is coming from but it is there.
     
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