AEM’s OCTOPUS project will deliver an E-Axle, free of rare earth materials, that uses next-generation integrated power electronics to create marketing-leading power density and packaging characteristics in line with Bentley’s needs.

We’ve previously worked with Bentley on the APEX motor technology project, and the OCTOPUS project builds on this work by applying leading-edge materials and manufacturing processes to push performance characteristics beyond APEX.


Delivering the ultimate passenger car E-Axle solution is a challenge that touches many issues: sustainability, rare earth material supply issues, CO2 emissions in production, CO2 emissions in use and recyclability at the end of life.

The key issues to address are four-fold:

  • How do we extract rare earth materials sustainably?
  • How do we put together the materials?
  • How efficiently can we put together these materials?
  • When we’re finished with those materials, how do we make sure we dispose of them in the most sustainable way?

The OCTOPUS Project

The OCTOPUS project sees us apply a cutting-edge approach to an iconic UK brand — and no manufacturer is more demanding than Bentley. But our goal is not simply to narrow its application to best-in-class performance vehicles. This is a technology that can be applied to all vehicles — not just the 0.1%.

The simulation toolkit, test programmes and test rigs can be applied to the automotive and broader transport markets. These can be developed to become vital assets to other automotive organisations leading the development of electrification technologies. The wire production methodology and additive manufacturing process routes developed through the OCTOPUS project will also be suitable for use in the wider component manufacturing market.

Partners on the project include AEM, TTPi, Hieta, Talga, Hartree, Diamond Light Source, University of Bath and Bentley Motors.

The Solution

AEM aims to use everything available in the market in the best way to deliver a world-changing technology solution and push performance characteristics beyond those of the APEX project. The result is an E-Axle solution that is more power-dense, more manufacturable and has stronger performance characteristics.

To achieve this, we used Europe’s largest supercomputer network, one of the world’s largest microscopes and world-leading test and validation. We also brought together the latest carbon-based super materials — graphene and carbon monotube — with traditional materials thinking. The solution has reduced costs and footprint by applying leading-edge materials and manufacturing processes to remove rare earth materials and copper from the process.

From this, we developed a cutting-edge manufacturing process working alongside traditional manufacturing to deliver an integrated solution that reduces the system’s overall manufacturing and assembly costs. The new manufacturing processes can be energy-intensive, and so we only use the technology when necessary. 

By using the installed asset base of the UK’s advanced manufacturing capability, manufacturers don’t have to spend millions on new tech and redesign processes and systems that already deliver low-cost economies. This also helps secure manufacturing jobs in the UK and encourages retraining of employees.

There are also wider opportunities for partners to become involved in developing an end-to-end supply chain, providing an opening for using the technology in sectors beyond automotive. AEM has developed a truly sustainable solution to future transports that is world-leading in its performance, cost and recyclability. 

Keen to learn more? Stay tuned in to find out how it’s going.

More about AEM’s passenger car applications:

Read the OCTOPUS press release: