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New Ricardo 48V electric motor aims to boost power and cut costs of hybrids; up to 50% increase in power density; ECOCHAMPS

As part of its contribution to a recently completed major European research initiative to achieve more efficient and cost-effective hybrid powertrains for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, Ricardo developed a new 48V e-motor offering up to a 50% increase in power density compared with current production machines.

Ricardo designed the new 48V e-motor and accompanying inverter to incorporate the latest thinking in high-performance, low-cost electrification, which aims to extend the performance of 48V hybrids to offer a more attractive and affordable solution in comparison with today’s higher-voltage hybrid cars.


The design and testing of this new Ricardo 48V e-motor and inverter was carried out as a part of the company’s contribution to the European COmpetitiveness in Commercial Hybrid and AutoMotive PowertrainS (ECOCHAMPS) project.

Ricardo was one of 25 collaborating EU commercial and academic partners on this project, the focus of which was to achieve both a 20% powertrain efficiency improvement and a 20% reduction in weight and in volume in comparison with baseline the best-in-class full hybrid vehicles on the market at the start of the project.

In doing so, the aim was for a cost premium of no more than 10% over equivalent conventional products—considerably less than the additional cost of current hybrid architectures.

The ECOCHAMPS project—which was recently completed—focused on the hybridization requirements of a range of vehicles from ‘C’ and ‘B’ class passenger cars, to light delivery trucks, city buses, and long haul heavy-duty trucks. The project delivered five demonstrator vehicles—one for each of these categories—in order to demonstrate and validate the full benefits approach taken in creating low-cost hybrid powertrains. The demonstrators are:

  • Class B Demonstrator: Fiat 500X
  • Class C Demonstrator: Renault Megane
  • Medium-Duty Demonstrator: IVECO Daily PHEV
  • City Bus Demonstrator: MAN
  • Heavy Tractor Demonstrator: DAF XF

In addition to broadly achieving the targets set for all five vehicle classes, the ECOCHAMPS vehicles demonstrated their constituent technologies up to a Technology Readiness Level of 7.

Testing as part of the ECOCHAMPS project was carried out at Ricardo facilities in Cambridge and Shoreham-by-Sea on three prototype units built for the project by Ricardo. Results of this work are expected to be published and presented at the IEEE ECCE at Portland, Oregon in September 2018.

This marks the start of a series of presentations being made on the results of the ECOCHAMPS project in China, Japan, USA, EU, India and the UK.



Hopefully this means a 10% increase on the cost of a conventional vehicle's powertrain, not on the whole vehicle cost!

I think this is more important than the flashier BEVs, as technologies have to be affordable, and it is more important that the additional 1 billion vehicles likely to be on the road by 2030 have their average emissions and consumption reduced, than that some small percentage driven by the most wealthy segment hit a heavily subsidised very low value.

The most bang per buck is in hybridisation,


People want efficient cars that perform at an affordable price, that should be obvious.


Would like to have the motor and inverter for my converted electric garden tractor that runs on 48 volt batteries.


Could it be $10% more than existing 48V offerings?
I'd like one of these in a drag race lawn tractor and I'm sure the neigbours would appreciate a Sunday sleep-in.


This improved technology will prolong the effective life of PHEVs by another 10+ years or so and put many more affordable PHEVs on the road to (more quickly) reduce pollution and GHGs.


48VMH are a stop-gap to BEVs, range-extended or not.

They are being touted as offering 70% of the enviro-benefits at 30% of the cost.

No one has offered support for the cost analysis, which certainly only applies to the very cheapest and least powerful system which cannot meet 2020 EU emission standards. SO, why bother?

50% of the cost of an EV is in the battery, whose prices just keep dropping despite performance increases.

48VMH as an automotive architecture is nearly obsolete already (giving it ten more years is being generous).

Still, many electrified accessories will be needed even after the fossil fuel-burning ICE is consigned to the trashbin.

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