A new EV powertrain is being developed by Zytek Automotive, a UK technology specialist, which the firm said would support the move of electric cars towards higher volumes.

The third generation unit is a ‘clean-sheet-of-paper design’ claimed to significantly simplify the introduction of new electric vehicles, from niche models to high-volume global programmes.

“The steps required to move from today’s low-volume trials to tomorrow’s fully-homologated production vehicles are very substantial and must not be under estimated,” said Zytek Automotive managing director Neil Heslington in a statement.

“Everything has to be re-evaluated, from development processes to dealer training. This new powertrain, combined with our substantial experience of EV and hybrid vehicle production programmes, will take time and cost out of this activity while helping to deliver the quality, refinement and driving experience that discerning customers demand.”

The turn-key package is extremely compact and in air-cooled configuration is up to 45% lighter than today’s production EV powertrains. Even the water cooled version, suitable for demanding drive cycles, is up to 30% lighter. Available in sizes from 25kW, the highly integrated modular system can be configured for a wide range of vehicle sizes, applications and architectures, Zytek claimed.

At the heart of the powertrain is a new permanent magnet synchronous motor. The high maximum machine speed of 14,000 rpm has enabled generated torque and hence machine size to be reduced considerably, bringing further reductions in cost and weight.

A new transmission, designed specifically for use with the new electric machine, is being developed by transmission specialist Vocis. “We are working closely with Zytek to ensure that the motor and gearbox are optimised as a single system, delivering maximum efficiency and installation flexibility with minimum cost, weight and packaging requirement,” said Vocis managing director Mike Everitt. “The width across the gearbox is just 138mm and transmission weight is only 10kg, which we have achieved without any compromise in performance. Testing has already shown that this is a very robust unit that delivers excellent durability and refinement.”

The compact dimensions of the new drivetrain make mechanical integration with the vehicle much simpler, Zytek said. The main connections required are high voltage (to the traction battery) and low voltage (for electrical interface with the vehicle). The air cooling option brings a further substantial contribution to reducing weight and complexity by potentially eliminating the entire water cooling system.