Bentley Motors has announced a three-year research project that, according to the company, will deliver a breakthrough in the development of e-axle electric powertrains. The study, which involves nine partners and is being funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), is being delivered in partnership with Innovate UK.
The study has been named OCTOPUS, which stands for Optimised Components, Test and simulatiOn, toolkits for Powertrains which integrate Ultra high-speed motor Solutions. Somewhat unwieldy title aside, what the project is intended to achieve is a transformation in the way EV powertrains are developed. Bentley say that the resulting electric drive system will exceed the latest permanent magnet motor performance, while at the same time removing the need for rare-earth metals and copper windings. It means the package will be more cost effective and recyclable at the end of its life.
Bentley go on to say that the study supports their desire to ‘lead sustainable luxury mobility’ and that it is aiming to have a real-world application ready by 2026. Commenting on the project, Bentley Motor’s Stefan Fischer, Director of Powertrain Engineering, said: “We have made no secret of our ambition to lead the way in the delivery of sustainable luxury mobility. We have a clear roadmap to offer a hybrid option for every model by 2023, starting with the Bentayga Hybrid, and our next goal moves towards a fully electric Bentley by 2026.”
Alongside Bentley itself the other partners in the project provide expertise in a broad range of areas, including the design and manufacture of electric motors and transmissions, the development of next generation winding technology and system analysis and validation testing.
One of the partners is Advanced Electric Machines, their CEO Dr James Widmer saying: “Having already worked closely with Bentley to successfully deliver a proof of concept, we look forward to this new project to push the performance, packaging and sustainability of electric vehicle drives to a new level.”
It’s an ambitious project but one that, if it succeeds, will surely place Bentley at the forefront of EV powertrain technology in the UK. What’s more, it is a study that will likely have rival luxury car makers watching with interest.