YASA spinoff Evolito has seen a wide range of interest from eVTOL manufacturers in its axial flux motor technology, senior executives told eVTOL.com, with the United Kingdom-based company viewing the advanced air mobility market as a key target for future growth.
YASA was founded in 2009 and is primarily focused on developing motors for automotive use. The company was acquired by Mercedes-Benz earlier this year. Evolito was previously spun out by YASA to speed electrification in the aerospace market with high performance, low weight electric motors.
The aim is to further develop YASA’s products for the aerospace sector, exploiting its axial flux technology and power-to-weight ratio advantage to fast track the development of eVTOL aircraft and other elements of urban air mobility (UAM).
According to Evolito, axial flux technology offers a range of benefits over radial electric motor technology, including higher power and torque densities, with the latter referring to “how much torque you can get per kilogram of machine mass,” explained Tim Woolmer, founder and chief technology officer of YASA and now an adviser for Evolito. YASA’s segmented topology — the company’s name stands for Yokeless and Segmented Armature — also gives it advantages over other types of axial flux motors, the company stated, with its cooling systems and other elements making the systems more robust.
The eVTOL market is a key target for Evolito, said managing director Gareth Morris. While there is a focus on electric and hydrogen-powered aircraft in regional air mobility, both of which could one day utilize axial flux electric motors, the range of work underway in UAM and the relative ease of developing such technology for smaller aircraft makes it a far more immediately addressable market.
“A lot of work is going into the certification guidelines, and a lot of work is going into the infrastructure,” said Morris, adding that while the company could not provide details of its work with eVTOL companies, “there’s a broad interest from a number of applications.”
Weight is a vital consideration, Woolmer said, with increased power and torque density allowing for smaller motors. “That’s appreciated in automotive, and they’ll thank you for saving a bit of weight — but in aerospace, it’s absolutely game changing, architecturally enabling and critical.”
Scale is a vital consideration, Woolmer said. For example, while 1,000 units per year could be considered high volume in aerospace, the potential urban demand for eVTOLs in the coming decades means “there could be a situation where eVTOLs start to increase in volume,” even as high as 10,000 annually or more. This would create a demand for tens of thousands of motors, even as much as 100,000 annually.
This potential is a key priority for Evolito, Woolmer added, with the company focused on developing the scale to move from “a very niche application to high volume.” That can be challenging for smaller developers, he said, “because technology is being put through that high-volume rigour,” which can pose problems for smaller, early-stage developers with a more manual production process.
It is still difficult to predict how quickly the eVTOL market “will gain real traction,” said Woolmer, adding that all the signs are that technological development of the systems is accelerating. The company expects annual eVTOL production to eventually reach similar levels to the lower end of the performance automotive market.
“I think the marriage of that higher rate manufacturing capability in a very torque-dense package is going to be a key opportunity for us and a key opportunity for our customers,” Woolmer said.