Pint-size Electric Motor Packs Super-size Power


Mitsubishi’s little electric cars have a lot of fans here at Gas 2, and they’re sure to win a few more with the introduction of a new EV motor that incorporates something called a silicon-carbide inverter. That’s fancy-talk for cutting-edge technology that will allow Mitsubishi to build EVs with smaller motors that deliver just as much power as the company’s current electrics.

Mitsubishi claims that the motor’s power chips are all silicon carbide-based, which results in a 50% improvement in conductive efficiency compared to their (and everyone else’s) current silicon-based inverter systems. That’s good news for MiEV fans and all the performance enthusiasts out there waiting on Mitsubishi’s hinted-at Evo XI diesel hybrid rally weapon.

We’ll have more on this new tech as soon as Mitusbishi puts it in an actual car. Until then, you can check out their full (albeit, brief) press release, below.

Tokyo – Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (TOKYO: 6503) announced today it has developed a prototype electric vehicle (EV) motor system with a built-in silicon carbide inverter. The EV motor system is the smallest of its kind, measuring just half the dimensions of Mitsubishi Electric’s existing motor system that uses an external inverter, and loss is below half that of silicon-based systems.

The new motor system is expected to enable manufacturers to develop EVs offering more passenger space and greater energy efficiency. The company plans to commercialize the motor system after finalizing other technologies for motor/inverter cooling, downsizing and efficiency.

The global demand for EVs and hybrid EVs (HEVs) has been growing in recent years, reflecting increasingly strict regulation of fuel efficiency and growing public interest in saving energy resources and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. As EVs and HEVs require relatively large spaces to accommodate their robust battery systems, there is a strong need to reduce the size and weight of motor systems and other equipment to ensure sufficient room in passenger compartments.

Source: Mitsubishi.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Anonymous

    So from what I understand the silicon carbide inverters losses are twice as small. Assuming most inverters have efficiencies in the high 90% range the losses are in the order of 5% of total consumed power. Saving half of those losses makes the car 2.5% more energy efficient overall.

    I fail to see how this changes the size of the motor. It allows the inverter to be smaller (less heat = less cooling surface needed) and the batteries to be 2.5% smaller, but it doesn’t affect the motor in any way I can imagine.

    • T Adkins

      The smaller motor will either allow for more battery space or a weight savings. The motor is half the size of current motors made by Mitsubishi. The inverter is also part of the motor contained in the same housing instead of being separate. The size could allow for a front and a rear motor or motors loosely linked together to drive the same wheels. If nothing else it could be a motor that should change EV motorcycles where the lower weight will make a greater difference. I am unsure if the motor is water or air cooled if water cooled the smaller motor would need less of a cooling system again saving weight.

      Smaller motor would also allow for more space and weight savings in a hybrid, like say a Mazda style rotary but with only the one rotor optimized for use as a constant rpm generator for the batteries and/or capacitors with this as the electric drive motor.

      Then there is always the option to pull the engines out of that huge fleet of retiring Mexico City VWs and convert them over to EV with this motor.

      Oh and being smaller the motor will take less material to make and in theory should cost less.

    • T Adkins

      hey if it scales down it should also scale up to say have an even more robust motor the same size as current motors being used in diesel electric trains and trucks. Also for use in generators perhaps even on a power grid level.

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