Evolute Drives, incorporated as a separate entity by its sister company Drive System Design (DSD) (earlier post), is seeking investors to help commercialize its high efficiency MSYS multi-speed transmission system for hybrids and electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)
The MSYS transmission was originally developed under a 3-year Technology Strategy Board (now InnovateUK) grant awarded in 2011, and in 2013 DSD was named as a key member of a £16-million (US$24.4-million) UK government-supported consortium known as the Evoque_E development program. Evoque_E took a pragmatic look at how new transmission and motor technologies could be implemented to increase the range, performance and refinement of electric vehicles. Almost completed, the project has investigated a number of evolving powertrain options, including multi-speed transmissions and the potential for doubling electric vehicle motor speeds.
The multi-speed MSYS transmission allows the traction motor to be smaller and more efficient by running it in a more power-efficient regime. Single-speed drives require the motors to have a high speed range in order to allow low-speed maneuvering as well as high-speed highway cruising.
This requires the motors to run at high speeds. In order to make a motor run at high speed you need to overcome the resistance of the magnetic field by weakening the field. This field weakening requires additional power and larger inefficient power electronics, the company says.
A multi-speed transmission allows the motor to run at lower speed, thereby eliminating the field weakening power loss (worth 10-15% reduction in power consumption) but also allowing the power electronics and motor to be smaller and lower cost. A challenge with a multi-speed system is changing gear automatically without affecting passenger comfort (i.e. seamless power shift) or using power to hold in gear (all automatic transmission use power to hold clutches closed). The MSYS shift technology provides a seamless shift but without requiring power to hold in gear as the system latches once the shift is completed.
|The MSYS transmission patent (WO2013190126) covers five inventions, which are currently being split into five separate global patents. Click to enlarge.
Other industry leaders of the Evoque_E consortium were AVL, Delta Motorsport, GKN Driveline, Jaguar Land Rover, Motor Design Ltd, Tata Steel, Williams Advanced Engineering, and Zytek. The consortium was supported by the universities of Bristol, Cranfield and Newcastle.
Developed to extend the range of battery electric and hybrid vehicles, MSYS is thus an advanced drivetrain technology aimed initially at the premium market segment. In addition, the company has product under development suitable for the higher volume mainstream automotive industry, with cost-effective gearbox solutions for conventional powertrains that are particularly well suited to the needs of developing markets such as India.
The German carmakers in particular, which tend to be global leaders in automotive technology development, are already expressing a keen interest in our high efficiency transmission for hybrid and electric vehicles. OEM success in electric and hybrid vehicles has emerged very clearly around premium level vehicles. That’s why we’ve aimed initially at these early adopters of electric vehicle technology. Licensing to higher volume mainstream vehicle manufacturers will follow.—managing director Alex Tylee-Birdsall
Tylee-Birdsall is also technical director of sister company DSD, an established engineering consultancy and drivetrain technology specialist.
As a start-up company, Evolute Drives has been registered under the UK’s Enterprise Investment Scheme, which provides significant tax incentives for investors in new technology. The HEV transmission products developed by the company are at a high level of technology and manufacturing readiness. The company has been created as a spin-off business by DSD to accelerate the production of its portfolio of driveline technologies and in particular its innovative MSYS gearbox.
We’re on course for initial low volume production, and scheduled to be profitable from 2018 onwards, with additional products available to launch by 2022. The 2018 milestone will provide an initial opportunity for incoming investors to exit through an automotive industry sale following a year of successful low volume production.
With global patents now secured, our three-year funding requirement will cover the ongoing costs of protecting our intellectual property while demonstrating the technology to vehicle manufacturers and their tier 1 suppliers. The investment will help us to design, test and validate MSYS for specific applications, so that it can be licensed to vehicle OEMs and their manufacturing partners for high volume series production.—Alex Tylee-Birdsall
DSD has transferred to Evolute Drives its membership of The Proving Factory, the UK government-backed project that creates a low volume automotive manufacturing and assembly capability in the UK. This will enable Evolute to provide cost-effective systems for low volume fleet trials, and help its high volume customers to reduce their development risks and timescales.
In addition to the premium hybrid and electric vehicle (HEV) applications of its gearbox technology, Evolute Drives recognizes that there is a lot of interest in better and more efficient automated manual transmission (AMT) solutions for conventional powertrains particularly in developing markets such as India.
For these rapidly developing markets the volumes are significantly higher, albeit offset of course by smaller profit margins in what is essentially a commodity market. There is a real commercial opportunity, however, for an efficient 4-5 speed AMT rather than the larger, more complex and more expensive dual-clutch transmission (DCT) systems. Consequently, we’re receiving serious enquiries and genuine interest in these markets for our patented high-efficiency gearbox designs.—Alex Tylee-Birdsall
Evolute Drives has appointed Anson Global as exclusive investment advisor on a worldwide basis.