Update: This article has been updated to clarify some technical details as well as the overall cost savings of the Hunstable electric machine.
It isn’t just batteries that are making big strides in electric cars.
Several companies are also striving to make electric motors more efficient and powerful.
Now a new Texas company claims it has a new motor technology that can generate twice the torque, three times the power, and 10 percent more range for electric cars in the same weight and space as a typical electric motor.
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Linear Labs founders Brad Hunstable and his father, Fred, call it the "linear flux" Hunstable Electric Turbine.
The wound motor uses four rotors where most motors use one or two, and current can alter the magnetic field inside the cylindrical stator to vary the ratio of torque to horsepower. “The more rotors you have interacting with the coils, the more power you have,” says CEO Brad Hunstable.
The coils are surrounded on four sides with magnets creating what Hunstable calls a torque tube.
The pair discovered the technology while working on windmills to deliver water to African villages.
With twice the torque of a standard electric motor and the ability to vary the output to favor higher rpm horsepower, as well as torque, they say the motor can eliminate the need for a gearbox in electric cars, with a total savings of $8,000 to $10,000 per car.
Although none of the production electric cars on the market today has what drivers would think of as a transmission that shifts gears, they do all have gearboxes that step up motor rpm to deliver the kind of off-the-line performance that drivers expect.
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Linear Labs’ Hunstable electric machine generates enough torque to get a car rolling by varying the magnetic field to maximize torque, then backs off to develop more horsepower for better performance at higher speeds.
The company says it has 21 patents on the design and another 29 pending.
Hunstable says the motor can be used for any kind of electric application, from generators in windmills and water pumps to cars to air conditioners.
The company isn’t starting out in cars, but says its motor will go into commercial production in a scooter next year. CEO Brad Hunstable expects it will make its way into a car in 2021.