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How Plasma TVs Led To Smaller Electric-Car Motor

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Axiflux compact electric motor (Axiflux)

Axiflux compact electric motor (Axiflux)

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All that sitting in front of the TV watching bad sitcoms could pay off, if a new electric motor proves successful in field trials.

A startup in Melbourne, Australia, has developed a new motor for use in an electric-powered Holden Commodore.

There's nothing wildly special about that, but the new, more efficient design was only possible due to the popularity of plasma televisions bringing down the cost of certain electrical components.

According to GoAuto, the motor, developed by David Jahshan and his company Axiflux, is claimed to be smaller, lighter and less expensive than existing designs.

The new motor will feature in one of a test fleet of electric Commodores from EV Engineering. It develops 150 kW of power (201 horsepower), and a massive 2,065 pounds-feet of torque. For comparison, the standard EV Engineering Commodores develop similar power, but "just" 295 lb-ft of torque.

At the same time, it's claimed to be 30 percent more efficient, and 79 pounds lighter--both highly advantageous for increasing driving range.

There are other benefits too. The existing electric Commodore test vehicles use a heavily modified rear subframe to accommodate the electric motor. So compact is the new motor, it could fit within the space of the differential in the gasoline model, keeping engineering changes to a minimum.

Part of the motor's efficiency is down to 23 embedded micro-controllers that adjust power consumption according to the immediate needs of the driver and vehicle. A few years ago, these controllers could have cost $50 AUS ($52) each, but now cost only $2. Why? Because similar units are used in plasma TVs, and the units' ubiquity has brought down the cost.

The units mean that parts of the motor can effectively be shut down, depending on the load. This increases efficiency above that of regular motors.

Another benefit is that the separate controllers eliminate the need for a separate power inverter, helping reduce the unit's size and improving packaging.

Axiflux is taking out patents worldwide for the motor, which Jahshan says will actually be quite easy to build--and inexpensive as a result.

So keep watching that television folks--you never know what electric vehicle technology will spring up next!

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Comments (9)
  1. Hopefully we will get an Ev from Holden one day or may be they might consider lowering the price of the Volt $60'888 drive away is way out of my price range
     
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  2. Great story!
     
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  3. Very interesting, let's hope it pans out
     
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  4. Are these new chips really processors or are they high-voltage switch chips? I don't know why a plasma TV would need a cheap DSP, but they use hundreds of switches to drive the rows of the display.
     
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  5. Don't use this as a reason to put off buying a hybird, plugin hybird or an electric car. Technology will always grow. I should have bought a hybird when they first came out. I would've saved more than the cost of the hybird in gas. And don't expect gas prices to go down anytime soon!
     
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  6. This story needs more details. You explained how the controller is less expensive due to high production volume on the DSP. But that doesn't explain how the motor got smaller and lighter while simultaneously increasing torque by ~10x.
     
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  7. Hi Cameron, you must have missed these lines:

    "Another benefit is that the separate controllers eliminate the need for a separate power inverter, helping reduce the unit's size and improving packaging."

    "Part of the motor's efficiency is down to 23 embedded micro-controllers that adjust power consumption according to the immediate needs of the driver and vehicle."

    As for the huge increase in torque, this must be taken with a pinch of salt as the new motor hasn't yet been installed in the car - the motor mentioned is just being bench-tested. I could have been clearer on this, so apologies for that.
     
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  8. I've never heard of an EV motor/controller being under 70% efficient, so either the existing electric Commodores are crap, or Axiflux has created an OverUnity Drive and is a step away from world domination.
     
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  9. Well, usually you have to take anything that comes out of a company "release" with a grain of salt. They are saying this to sell the company and gather funding.

    Most of the time, they don't go into technical detail to expose any real design achievment.

    They always compare with the "worst", never the best...

    More inverter/controllers only help when there are more poles. But those poles eventually will add switching loss at higher speed. So, they are probably talking about 1 specific operating band where the motor/controller is optimized for...
     
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