In-wheel electric motors make a lot of sense. They eliminate the need for centrally mounted motors, drive shafts, differentials, and universal joints, leaving more room for people and things. The drawback is they add a significant amount of unsprung weight, which requires some improvements to the suspension to overcome.
Elaphe, a Tier One supplier to the auto industry, is a leader in designing in-wheel motors and has products for everything from small passenger cars to SUVs and light trucks. At the Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo in Stuttgart last week, the company unveiled its new L1500 gearless in-wheel motor.
Where does that name come from? The L1500 is capable of an astonishing 1500 Newton-meters of torque and 110 kW of power — equivalent to 147 horsepower. Fit a vehicle with four of them and you have a road rocket that can uproot tree trunks for fun. One of the features of Elaphe’s motors is that they can be fitted to existing automobiles with little to no modifications to the existing brakes or suspension pieces.
According to Elaphe CEO, Gorazd Lampiča, the L1500 motor will begin low volume series production in the fourth quarter of 2019. “Our technology enables manufacturers to design and produce electric or hybrid vehicles rapidly and cost-effectively without compromise to their existing vehicle architectures or complex packaging. The technology also integrates seamlessly with autonomous driving applications, providing feedback data, unprecedented responsiveness, and enhanced vehicle controlability.”
In a press release, the company says, “In-wheel motor technology offers a fresh solution by providing power that can meet and exceed internal combustion engine alternatives in a package that does not invade chassis, passenger or cargo space. At the same time in-wheel motors reduce vehicle part count, complexity and cost.
“The technology allows for complete design freedom and the potential for increased regenerative braking. In-wheel powertrain can also help reduce the overall required battery capacity and cost. These advantages offer OEMs an immediate opportunity to build more unique and functional electric and hybrid vehicles that consumers want and are cost-effective to manufacture.”
The L1500 fits within any wheel 19″ in diameter or larger. The company has not released details about now much each motor weighs, but New Atlas reports its smaller M700 in-wheel motor with half the torque weighs 50 lbs. That seems like a lot, but modern active suspension systems should be capable of managing the extra weight. The L1500 will go into limited production in the 4th quarter of this year.
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