Cobham Technical has formed a collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Ricardo engineering consultants to initiate a project named "Rapid Design and Development of Switched Reluctance Traction Motor" that is co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

Cobham's role is to develop the software and capture the other partners' technology in order to design, simulate and analyse the work of high efficiency and lightweight electric traction motors that would do away with expensive magnetic materials extracted from rare earth materials, mostly supplied by China.

Using the result, JLR and Ricardo will develop a prototype switched reluctance motor that would be compatible with luxury hybrid vehicles.

After three years into the research, improvised designing tools and processes will be employed to design and produce this technology for its commercial use. As there is need to lower CO2 emissions from hybrid vehicles through employing light weight electric motors, it is also urgent that the use of expensive rare earth materials be stopped, owing to increasing cost and short supply.

Unlike current motors, the new switched reluctance motors are devoid of permanent magnets and thus, promising alternates.

Dr Andrew Atkins, chief engineer of innovation, at Ricardo, said: "The development of technologies enabling the design of electric vehicle motors that avoid the use of expensive and potentially carbon-intensive rare-earth metals is a major focus for the auto industry. Ricardo is pleased to be involved in this innovative program and we look forward to working with Cobham and Jaguar Land Rover to develop this important new technology. This will further build upon our growth plans for electric drives capability and capacity."

One of the likely obstacles in this project is the development of a torque-intensive motor that is less noisy and suitable for luxury vehicles.