Automotive Engineering - March 2022 - 18

MOTOR MOVES
BMW's fifth-generation
" e-drive " electric propulsion
modules are designed and
manufactured in-house.
With EVs on the path to high-volume market penetration, automaker and
supplier drive-motor production strategies come into focus.
by Bill Visnic
I
t's happening - the transition to EVs is undeniably underway.
Recent launches such as Ford's Mustang Mach-E, versatile-bodystyle
EVs from mainstream brands Hyundai and Kia and forthcoming
electric pickups from Ford and GM are positioning EVs on the
high-volume trajectory widely forecasted as inevitable. Scores of new
EV models from all automakers are promised to launch by 2025. Vivid
evidence of the sudden EV and electrification groundswell came in
early February when the short list of candidates for the European Car
of the Year award was announced: every one had a plug.
Aside from batteries, the most significant component of the EV
value and supply chain is the traction motor that - often integrated
with an inverter and associated power electronics - is applied in single,
dual, triple, or even at-each-wheel configurations to provide propulsion.
Electric motors are vaunted for their comparative simplicity
and efficiency. As such, the design hasn't substantively varied in the
past half-century. But as EV market penetration hits its stride, automakers,
suppliers and specialist e-motor developers are flowing massive
resources to motor design, manufacturing and deployment.
Engineers and experts who spoke with SAE Media largely agree
that two of the most crucial aspects of the transition from internalcombustion
engines to electrified propulsion are how quickly it happens
and whether automakers or suppliers will assume the development
and manufacturing lead. Even if OEMs desire to emulate their
tradition as the chief architects and builders of IC engines, the new
paradigm of electrification may deliver different results. It is likely
there will be markedly more traction motors designed and manufactured
by suppliers than has ever been the case for IC engines.
" It seems there will be a mix of in-house, purchased, and in-house
assembly with purchased components, " said Jeff Hemphill, chief technical
officer at Schaeffler, in response to emailed questions from SAE
18 March 2022
Media. " Our goal is to develop technical advantages
that make us a preferred supplier, " he added. It's a tack
many Tier 1 suppliers are likely to take.
In-house or supplied
Currently, several global full-line automakers have indicated
they intend to retain design and manufacture of
traction motors as an in-house competency. General
Motors plans to have some 1 million units of EV manufacturing
capacity in North America by the end of
2025. Last fall GM revealed a " family " of electric motors
- a pair of permanent-magnet (PM) synchronous
units outputting 180 kW and 220 kW (241 hp and 295
hp) and an AC induction motor rated at 62 kW (83 hp)
- designed to work as a system with the company's
Ultium lithium-ion batteries. GM has yet to provide
specifics about manufacturing, but in January announced
it is spending $154 million to refit its components
plant in Lockport, New York to produce motor
stator modules. It is widely believed the company will
produce most, if not all, of the new EV motor portfolio
in North America.
Ford has not made any wide-ranging announcements
about its electric-motor manufacturing strategy but has
said the PM motors for Mustang Mach-E and the F-150
Lightning pickup coming in mid-2022 were developed
in-house and are or will be built at the company's Van
Dyke transmission plant near Detroit. The company said
the F-150 Lightning's two traction motors - one per axle
AUTOMOTIVE ENGINEERING
BMW

Automotive Engineering - March 2022

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