BMW Bets on More Efficient EV Motors

BMW invests in EV motor startup DeepDrive for the company's impressive patented lightweight motor technology.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

March 21, 2023

2 Min Read
DeepDrive's compact electric motor design.BMW

BMW is a co-lead investor in the $16.1-million Series A round for startup DeepDrive, along with UVC Partners, Bayern Kapital with Wachstumsfonds Bayern, and Continental’s Corporate Venture Capital Unit.

DeepDrive has developed in-wheel electric motors for EVs and a dual-rotor design that the company says saves cost and resources compared to other designs. The company says that its radial flux dual-rotor electric motor includes power electronics so it can be installed in any vehicle either as a central drive motor or as an in-wheel motor.

The claims include that DeepDrive’s patented technology increases the range of vehicles, achieves high torque density, is cost-efficient to manufacture, and requires fewer natural resources. “With our dual-rotor technology, we are significantly more cost-effective and efficient on the road, shaping tomorrow's electromobility,” said co-founder and CEO Felix Pörnbacher. "We believe our technology will revolutionize vehicle electrification. The demand for our development shows that we are on the right track.”

BMW apparently agrees. "With its patented and unique e-motor architecture, DeepDrive could set new standards for e-mobility,” said Marcus Behrendt, Managing Director at BMW i Ventures. “DeepDrive's e-motor technology is designed for easy and cost-effective mass production,” he notes, which bodes well for its potential to reach volume production. 

DeepDrive says it will use this cash infusion to start manufacturing its motors and hire workers with the goal of winning production commitments from carmakers. The company’s claims for its motors include:

  • cost-efficient manufacturing

  • 50 percent less magnet material

  • 80 percent less iron use

  • rare-earth-free magnets

  • less than 30 percent the cost per Nm in comparison to the state-of-the-art

DeepDrive’s 19-inch-diameter in-wheel motors deliver 1,250 Nm torque and 125-kW peak power at a claimed 97 percent efficiency in a package that weighs an impressive 70.4 lbs. (32 kg). It is suitable for compact class and mid-size EVs using lithium iron phosphate or sodium-ion batteries. The central drive motor boasts 700 Nm torque and 300 kW peak power with a 12,000-rpm maximum speed 98 percent E-drive efficiency and only 66 lbs. (30kg) of weight.

Dual-Rotor, Radial-Flux Machine

  • highest torque and power density

  • small iron losses and high material utilization

  • lowest noise emissions and torque ripple

  • simple and effective cooling concept

New Winding Concept

  • distributed bar winding

  • slot filling factor above 80 percent

  • simple manufacturing

Efficient Integrated Silicon Carbide Inverter

  • innovative topology with SiC MOSFETS

  • optimized for reduced losses

  • patented, cost-effective topology

DeepDrive’s founders met as members of Technical University Munich’s Formula Student team before banding together to found this company. In addition to BMW, DeepDrive says it is working with eight of the top ten OEMs, with the goal of bringing its technology to production by 2026.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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