Drives and Controls Magazine
Yasa spins off axial motor company to target aerospace uses
Published:  23 September, 2021

It has emerged that before Yasa, the British developer of axial-flux electric motors, was acquired by Mercedes-Benz earlier this year, it spun off a new company dedicated to developing and manufacturing electric motors and power electronics specifically for aerospace applications.

The new privately-owned business, called Evolito, will commercialise Yasa’s electric motor technology and IP for the rapidly-growing aerospace market. It says that the axial-flux motor technology already proven in series production for automotive applications, has “even greater advantages” in the aerospace market and that the new business is “uniquely positioned” to propel the commercialisation and adoption of electric flight.

Evolito claims that its high-performance, low-weight motors and power electronics are smaller, lighter and more robust than any other competing technology, opening up new opportunities for eVtol (electric vertical take-off and landing), fixed-wing and distributed electric propulsion applications, such as urban air mobility (UAM).

According to the Roland Berger consultancy, the market for electric drive systems for UAM applications will reach $90bn by 2050, when these systems will be powering 160,000 vehicles .

The unique segmented topology of the Evolito motor is said to be more robust than other designs, making it ideal for the aerospace market where safety is paramount. Efficiencies are claimed to be above 98%.

The axial-flux technology also needs up to 75% less iron, less copper and less permanent magnets than competing radial motor designs, making it lighter and more environmentally-friendly.

Evolito’s initial product portfolio includes direct-drive motors with ratings from 100kW continuous (500Nm peak, 2,000 rpm) to 500kW (3kN, up to 2,000 rpm), and indirect drive motors from 100kW continuous (300Nm minimum, above 4,000 rpm) to 250kW peak (6kNm peak, above 4,000 rpm). There are also 800V, 300A rms inverters suitable for all of the motors, that are based on a silicon carbide technology.

Evolito claims that its high-performance, low-weight axial-flux motors are smaller, lighter and more robust than any other competing technology

“Electrification in aerospace is some ten years behind that of the automotive industry, but the market potential is huge,” says Evolito’s managing director, Gareth Morris, who led the creation of a centre of excellence for electric motor drive systems and power electronics at Collins Aerospace from 2012 to 2020. “Electric vertical take-off and landing, electric helicopter, fixed-wing and urban air mobility aircraft need high-power-density, low-weight electric powertrains with inherently high safety factors – a combination of attributes that are unique to our axial-flux electric motor and power electronics. By leveraging Yasa’s unique IP in the aerospace market, Evolito will fast-track the commercialisation of electric flight and transform mobility as we know it.”

Yasa supplied Rolls-Royce with the three axial-flux electric motors that power its Spirit of Innovation aircraft that took off recently for the first time and is designed to set a new world speed record for electric aircraft of more than 480km/h. Each of the three motors are less than 98mm long, yet provide 790Nm of peak torque and 200kW of peak power. They allow the plane’s propellers to deliver more than 373kW (500hp) of continuous power and the blades to spin slow enough for a stable and almost silent ride, with an efficiency of more than 97% and zero emissions. The Rolls-Royce plane is being backed by the UK government as part of the Accel (accelerating the electrification of flight) project.

Evolito is based in Oxford, UK. Its investors include Waypoint Capital and Oxford Science Enterprises (OSE). “The electrification of flight is one of the most exciting market opportunities of our time,” says OSE senior partner, Alexis Zervoglos. “Realising this potential will require innovative new technology and an ability to scale to meet the fast-emerging demand.”

in July 2021, Yasa was acquired by Mercedes-Benz which palns to use its motors to power a new generation of high-performance all-electric AMG cars due to be launched in 2025.

Evolito: Twitter