Electric in-wheel drive pioneer receives investment

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EIT InnoEnergy, a European investor in sustainable energy and electric mobility innovations, has announced a €4.2 million A+ investment in Elaphe Propulsion Technologies (Elaphe), a developer of electric in-wheel-drive technology for electric vehicles. The investment is intended to serve as a springboard to secure further growth, while giving Elaphe access to a robust and respected sustainable energy and mobility innovation network.

Elaphe’s patented in-wheel powertrain system does away with the traditional centralised architecture of a motor vehicle, creating what it claims is the world’s first commercially scalable in-wheel motor system. The electromagnetic design enables specific torque up to 100Nm/kg, 200kW of power per regular car wheel, and offers OEMs the flexibility to integrate off-the-shelf corner components such as brakes, rims, bearings, and suspensions.

The modular platform combines the in-wheel powertrain with software capable of optimising each in-wheel motor in real time. As a result, Elaphe’s platform can be integrated into a wide range of vehicles, cutting down on manufacturing costs and increasing vehicle functionality and safety features.

By increasing the vehicle’s available space and reducing weight, the move to in-wheel motors will allow for flexibility in terms of vehicle design, while also increasing efficiency by moving the torque to where it is actually needed. According to market studies, the total addressable market for in-wheel powertrains is predicted to climb from around €1.6 billion in 2025 to around €12 billion in 2030.

“The partnership with EIT InnoEnergy strengthens Elaphe’s position both in the EU and globally. The provided investment and support will significantly accelerate commercial activities with automotive OEMs. This in turn will help us further optimise our best-in-class technology platform in accordance with customer requirements for production vehicles,” said Gorazd Lampic, CEO of Elaphe. “Therefore, being part of EIT InnoEnergy’s ecosystem gives us a competitive edge both from a technological as well as a business perspective and opens up exciting growth opportunities.”

According to Elaphe, several car manufacturers, from leading global brands to startups, are already working with the company to apply their in-wheel technology to production vehicles. Startups include US-based Lordstown Motors, an Ohio-based electric truck company which recently purchased the Lordstown production complex from General Motors. The company’s Endurance pick-up truck has already accrued pre-orders in excess of 27,000 vehicles, with deliveries set to begin in 2021.

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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