Alan Tovey, The Telegraph, 28 March 2021
A British company which has developed pioneering electric car motors that do not rely on expensive rare magnets is preparing to raise £250m as it seeks to expand.
Spun out of Newcastle University in 2017, Advanced Electric Machines (AEM) is seeking £30m over the next few months to boost UK production capacity. It will then try to secure another £220m within a year to fund further growth as the market booms ahead of a UK ban on new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
AEM claims to have cracked a problem with “switched reluctance motors”, a technology first identified in the 1800s. These can operate without permanent magnets, which are likely to become increasingly rare as the world’s vehicles electrify.
Instead, these motors rely on precisely timing how power is supplied to create electromagnetic fields, meaning they can be built out of cheap metals such as steel.
Until now they have been hard to control and have been marred by issues with noise and vibration. AEM has patented technology which it says solves these challenges and is working to get its systems into the mainstream.
Peter Fleet, a former vice president at Ford, has been brought in as chairman to oversee AEM’s fundraising and scaling up, with the initial round hoped to support expansion from a production capacity of 10,000 motors a year now to at least 100,000.
Mr Fleet said: “This is a unique technology that’s not just green because it doesn’t need rare magnets, it’s also lighter and more powerful than traditional motors, and wrapped up in patents that solve the challenges around it.”
AEM is in talks with global car manufacturers about how its technology can be adopted, and the company is working with marques including Bentley and Tevva.
Mr Fleet added: “Rare magnets are going to be an increasing problem as the automotive industry electrifies, we’ve already seen prices of some magnets double in the past year.
“We are a British company that has found a solution to what is a global problem.”
Today AEM takes another step forward on our mission to make all electric motors sustainable.
Primary production and refinement of rare earth material used in traditional electric motors is immensely damaging to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate we share, but we have the solution.
HDSRM, focussed on commercial vehicle applications, delivers both higher efficiency and improved safety over traditional permanent magnet solutions. Our motor technologies are available off-the-shelf or can be tuned to your specific application needs with or without transmission designs.
Our passenger car motor, SSRD, delivers the ultimate performance and recyclability. SSRD, which is the focus of our OCTOPUS product development programme with Bentley Motors, will be ready for volume production in 2024 and is available for prototype applications today.
However, recognising the large volumes of permanent magnets used in applications from hard disk drives to wind turbines, Advanced Electric Machines is working with partners at Bentley Motors, Hypromag, Intelligent Lifecycle Solutions, Unipart, and the University of Birmingham to recycle the millions of tonnes of rare earth magnets that have already been disposed of. The motor technologies we develop will be focussed on smaller applications, such as automotive ancillary drives and our world-leading aerospace technology for ultra-efficient drones.
This is an industry-first and potentially game-changing innovation which, when coupled with our ability to remove rare earths from traction applications, will deliver sustainable motor solutions for both the automotive and aerospace sectors.
Read Bentley’s full press release here: https://www.bentleymotors.com/news/bentley-sets-out-path-to-sustainable-recyclable-electric-motors.html