YASA Motors wins UK’s Best Enterprise Award

YASA Motors has been named the UK’s Best Enterprise in the Lloyds TSB/Telegraph Enterprise Awards and wins £50,000. Dr Tim Woolmer, YASA’s Founder and Chief Technology Officer, invented the motor for his DPhil project at Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science. The motor is lighter, smaller and, ultimately, cheaper to produce than its rivals.

In 2005 Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science; Cranfield University, a British defence technology firm, QinetiQ, Morgan Motors and Riversimple formed a consortium and received LLoydsTSB ‘LIFEcar’ (Lightweight Fuel Efficient Car) and government  grants to develop a hydrogen support car.

Malcolm McCullochDr Malcolm McCulloch, who heads up the Energy and Power Group at the Department of Engineering Science, was Tim Woolmer’s supervisor and today is a non-executive director of YASA Motors said: “The Department’s role was to develop the power train from the fuel cell to the wheel as existing technology was too heavy and therefore a rethink was needed – we had to come up with the smallest electric motor we could.  Advancement in material science allowed us to develop a new shape of magnetic part, which resulted in a much lighter motor and Tim Woolmer was developing this as part of his DPhil project.  This idea was then taken through the Oxford University route to form the spin-off YASA Motors”.

Tim Woolmer
Photo courtesy of Ed Nix/Oxford Mail
Dr Woolmer commented: “We started with a completely blank sheet as the University had never designed anything of this sort before, which was great as we weren’t bound by any existing technology. The YASA (Yokeless and Segmented Armature) motor combines a revolutionary redesign of the magnetics in an electric motor, a clever cooling system and mechanical packaging. This results in a motor that is up to 60pc smaller and, at around 10kg, four times lighter than the 2010 Toyota Prius motor with a 30pc greater power output”.

Dr Woolmer added: “We’re looking at installing these high-performance electric motors in the new generation of electric and hybrid vehicles that will come on to the market in 2016/2017 as the design cycle for a new vehicle is four to five years. The award money will go towards new lab equipment and an upgraded test facility – something we couldn’t have contemplated for at least another year. Electric cars will take some time to become popular as they are still relatively expensive to buy, but by reducing the magnetic materials in the motor, we are helping to make electric cars far cheaper to produce”.

The company is also exploring uses beyond the motor industry, including the agricultural, marine, aerospace and construction sectors, which all have a need for lightweight electric motors.

Acknowledgements: "The Telegraph" and "The Oxford Mail"