EU Research partners reveal next generation e-drives – ModulED

Consortium of 9 leading vehicle electrification experts have revealed the results of their joint 3 year pan-European research project. The presented e-drive combines myriad of innovations in components and sub-systems, as well as full system integration by Punch Powertrain, together resulting in overall efficiency increase of around 15% and  a cost reduction of approximately 8%.

EU research to boost electrification

Reduction of emissions through vehicle electrification and reduced use of rare earth materials is crucial to improving our overall environmental impact. Affordability and efficiency are essential to boost NEV adoption and require rapid innovation progress. ModulED is a research project funded under the European Green Vehicles Initiative, that brings together 9 expert suppliers in different fields of electrification in order to address this challenge. The project aims at generating and disseminating innovation on the next generation electric drives for electrified and electric vehicles, focusing on high efficiency, significant cost reduction and a reduction of use of heavy rare earth

Outperforming state-of-the-art e-drive units

The research in the ModulED project has resulted in a design that strongly outperforms current state-of-the-art units, based on various innovations:

  • A 6-phase e-machine has been developed with speed up to 23.000rpm. The high-speed design allows for a more compact design and reduced use of heavy rare earth materials.
  • The e-machine is controlled by a newly developed inverter based on wide bandgap GaN semiconductor technology. Implemented multiphase failure detection allows for a 33% increased fault-tolerance.
  • The twin-speed transmission development with its dual ratio arrangement allows to increase vehicle performance, while assuring high overall efficiency.
  • The unit’s packaging is highly compact and houses the twin-speed transmission in the space of today’s state-of-the art single-speed drivetrains of same power level.
  • Strong improvement in auxiliary systems (such as actuation and cooling ) allows to minimise losses, resulting in a lower overall energy usage and an increased vehicle range.

3-in-1 integration boosts efficiency

Furthermore, full 3-in-1 integration (of e-machine, inverter and transmission) results in a highly efficient overall unit. For the integration and testing the consortium called upon Punch Powertrain, the partner with full in-house expertise on all systems, relying on a full range of state-of-the-art, pioneering testing equipment and processes. A clear focus on cost-effective solutions provides an expected cost reduction of over 8% on the overall powertrain.

Demonstrating real life application

The e-drive was integrated successfully in a commercial vehicle and has undergone a full range of tests, both on unit and vehicle level. Punch Powertrain’s fully equipped state-of-the-art test center was used to test the drive unit’s performance, efficiency and acoustic behavior. Studies demonstrated peak efficiencies of 93% and 92% in respectively first and second gear, confirming broad area of high efficiency operation. Further performed tests include energy consumption on chassis dynamometer and further extensive validation with drivability assessment. The application achieved comparable energy consumption to the original vehicle, while demonstrating 30% increase in the drive unit’s performance.