Researchers at the University of Bath’s Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) will work alongside British luxury carmaker Bentley Motors on a three-year research study that promises to transform electric vehicle powertrains.

IAAPS experts will work with a nine-strong consortium to lead the development of fully integrated, recyclable e-axle that will support electric vehicle architectures. The work will assist in realising Bentley’s ambition to lead sustainable luxury mobility and introduce the first fully electric Bentley by 2026.

The study, titled OCTOPUS (Optimised Components, Test and simulatiOn, toolkits for Powertrains which integrate Ultra high-speed motor Solutions) follows an initial 18-month investigation that delivered a technological breakthrough in electric drive systems for high-performance vehicles.

The resulting electric drive system delivered a package both cost-effective and recyclable at its end of life, which exceeded pre-existing permanent magnet motor performance while simultaneously removing the need for both rare-earth magnets and copper windings.

OCTOPUS will take this leading-edge motor, power electronics and packaging transmission design, adding next-generation materials, manufacturing processes, simulation and test cycles to deliver a full e-axle powertrain with unique levels of integration and revolutionary performance characteristics suitable for real-world application by 2026.

Commenting on the project, Stefan Fischer, Director of Powertrain Engineering at Bentley Motors, said: “We have made no secret of our ambition to lead the way in the delivery of sustainable luxury mobility, Beyond100. We have a clear roadmap to electrify our entire model range by 2023, starting with the Bentayga Hybrid, and our next goal moves towards a fully electric Bentley by 2026.

“However today, there remains challenges and package constraints on the viability and flexibility of electric vehicle powertrains that are able to fully support EV architectures. With the industry, technologies and cars changing faster than ever before, research projects such as OCTOPUS are crucial to deliver innovative technologies and overcome challenges for the next generation of mobility solutions.”

IAAPS Deputy Academic Director, Prof. Sam Akehurst, said: “This is a highly exciting and innovative project to engage with. It is great to be working with Bentley, AEM and the other partners to deliver a product requiring both high performance and high refinement. This will be one of the first projects to be undertaken in our new state of art IAAPS research building, utilising our state of the art powertrain research facilities.”

Geraint Evans