Elaphe Propulsion Technologies to provide in-wheel motors to HFM’s Motionboard EV platform

Elaphe Propulsion Technologies, a manufacturer of in-wheel electric propulsion systems, and HFM, a developer of mechatronics systems for electric and autonomous vehicles, have announced a new partnership. HFM’s autonomous EV platform Motionboard will now incorporate Elaphe’s in-wheel motor technology.

Motionboard is a modular and scalable platform that’s used as a base for building autonomous EVs. The platform can be modified based on the vehicle’s requirements of length, width, mass, and battery capacity. Motionboard is road-legal and meets European requirements as an M1 Class vehicle, a passenger vehicle with up to eight seats in addition to the driver.

Now, Motionboard’s propulsion will be provided by Elaphne L1500 direct-drive hub motors.

“Elaphe’s in-wheel motors operate at over 90 percent efficiency and allow us to achieve extended operating ranges,” said Marcus von Wilamowitz, Head of Electrical Integration and Functional Safety at HFM.

“Our in-wheel technology is put through extensive automotive validation under a wide range of demanding operating conditions and loads,” said Urska Skrt, Head of Business Development at Elaphe. “Elaphe’s patented electromagnetic topology allows our motor design to be highly scalable, light-weight and the most compact on the market. Combined with intelligent motor control, it is the most simple and modular electric vehicle propulsion that enables ultimate packaging and user-centered design.”


Source: Elaphe Propulsion Technologies and HFM

  • freedomev

    A lie. It has too much unsprung weight causing a very harsh ride and efficiency is only at speed and terrible at starting, low speed as is starting torque.
    How many times does this have to be proven again and again until people understand?
    Plus putting the brake inside it will cause overheating it already has a problem with.
    Hub motors only work where the vehicle is light and has help starting up like a bike or MC where legs can help get going, especially starting up a hill, the controlling spec on car drives..

    • EnergyFrequencyVibration

      Hi freedomev, as someone interested in technology you are obviously pretty open minded and know your way around EVs.

      Well, everybody has the right for his/her opinion, luckily your opinion is connected directly to an engineering topic which is quantifiable so no philosophical approach is really applicable. No offense, but words like “much,” “low,” “light” just don’t go well with measurable engineering principles and this by itself already defines the level of expertise. A layman’s theory will always be a hypothesis but an engineer and a scientist will make the effort to objectively reject or accept it. Being subjective is just not an option for an engineer.

      I would bet your thinking is arising from the fact that unsprung mass is an important topic when designing a vehicle, especially a race car due to the extreme conditions that may result in reduced traction and loose of confidence for the driver. This is all true but the myth connected to in-wheel motors and unsprung mass are already well outdated. The reason for such thinking of laymen is probably that 20, 30 years ago in-wheel motors weighed 100kg+, which obviously had a larger effect on the comfort and dynamics, since a pneumatic tire, Al rim, hub bearing and braking system weight “only” 70 kg for an SUV, back then you would have 170kg + but nowadays you have instead of 70, 90kg per wheel…

      In case you are afraid of additional unsprung mass effects, you most probably read scientific literature on this topic. Just to be sure, I will write some of the quite known names that already proved these effects are neglectable for many applications. These myths you are referring to, have been deeply analyzed by the upper mentioned Elaphe but also Schaeffler [Weissman], Protean [Dr. Perovic], and several independent institutions such as Lotus [Anderson], Toyota, NSK, NTN, Nissan, Brembo, Continental, Uni. of Skovde [Andersson], Uni. of Eindhoven [R. Vos], Uni. of Stellenbosch [Schalkwyk], Fraunhofer LBF [R. Heim], etc. and all conclude that simulations and measurements show changed accelerations, however ride comfort and driving dynamics are in the same range as within conventional vehicles with original corner parts. All these research was made with added unsprung mass and without any suspension part fine-tuning, so maneuvering space exists for additional improvements if required.The magnitudes of changed acceleration were between 10 and 30% for added mass from 15 to 30kg. These values are objectively not an issue for ride comfort according to ISO 2631:1-1997 and BS 6841:1987. The ride (dis)comfort can be assessed by the overall ride comfort index: a(overall) = sqrt (a^2(x) + a^(y) + a^2(z)); with a(x), a(y) and a(z) the frequency weighted root mean square (RMS) value of the acceleration in x, y and z direction. respectively to [Vos] it is not noticeable by a conventional nor a professional driver for street legal road:
      . https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/4e3e3f437adf591108fe74fb7c83e4e61fde7a97f919313563049205b09c83a4.jpg

      So accelerations are slightly lower for unsprung but higher for sprung mass if you go into details. Many research does not include the lower Center of Gravity (CoG) effects on the ride comfort and driving dynamics, since research included only an added disc simulating and in-wheel motor and added unsprung weight inside the wheel. This effect is perfectly manageable by suspension fine tuning, in addition lower CoG and direct drive benefits including higher energy efficiency and torque vectoring of individual wheel without current time lag due to mechanical transmission (ABS response goes from 12ms to 4ms) make the in-wheel propulsion technology safer, more comfortable, efficient and last but not least, the end game of future propulsion. the advent of level 3 and 4 autonomous vehicles has pushed the suspension development to offer solutions that make the added mass irrelevant. The solutions will have to be used regardless of using hub motors or not for other comfort reasons.

      – while you are right that the efficiency at low speeds is lower it is not by any means outside of other e-motor technologies with direct drive – that said it is difficult to imagine a hub motor with the same starting efficiency as an e-axle with a fixed double stage reduction gear. Gears are great at low speeds but using them depends on the application and specific requirements 🙂
      – that said, the range of EVs truly matters (for most people that will charge at home or at the office more or less daily) when going on a longer trip. And at highway speeds hub motors excel in efficiency and will actually provide you a longer range than any other solution. Having no gear is great at high speeds:)

      Performance and braking:
      – I’ve experienced a 2.6 tonne SUV with hub motors with approx. 4.5 s 0-100 kph. I think the performance should be more than enough for any car.
      – as an EV fan you probably see the brakes reducing in size in EVs, right? It’s due to the fact that the vehicle is braking 90% (or more) of the time with regen. braking. So the primary concern for the mech. brake is to guarantee the emergency stop, heat capacity and repeated deceleration and correlated heat capacity +dissipation.

      So while there are pros and cons to any technology in any field (and we did not get to
      all the pros) in my opinion hub motors today make sense for many segments of the passenger car market, especially the ones which HFM is targeting with their platform.

      But of course your concerns are valid to some extent and had to be addressed to make it feasible. Engineering tests and results are being disseminated for this technology within the past decade and it is obvious that much more time will be required to prove the technology to larger audience.


      • freedomev

        Great post except there are no hub motors in mass production highway vehicles says you are not correct.
        Given their obvious other great qualities of lower parts count, packaging, why?
        I tried to design one using every trick I know of but it all came back to get the power need for starting up a hill, the controlling EV power spec, they need to be very powerful which means lots steel and copper, thus heavy, harsh ride.
        Since I design, build lightweight EVs, this is an especially large problem for me even without a hub motor.
        And why the one you drove was so fast, it had to be in order to start up a hill. Get one with 25% of the power one with gearing would need to start up the hill, and see how well it works.
        I look forward to this problem being solved but not holding my breath.

        • EnergyFrequencyVibration

          Every technology has it’s own relation TRL Vs. Time before mass market deployment, don’t you agree? In-wheel motors (IWM) were specifically not in usage for more than 100 years since Lohner-Porsche (yes, The Porsche…) in 1897. in 2010s IWMs became popular in e-scooters and nowadays you cannot find an scooter in China without it. Ever been to Cuba? Chinese influence is so strong that you can see only 70 year old classic US cars and brand new BYDs and e-scooters with IWMs. What I want to say is that market entrance is really not straight forward. Being successful includes overcoming challenges on many layers, definitely not only technological, being the most logical to us engineers. Since you are in automotive you know this is especially true for conservative western automotive industry. Eastern mentality is different and especially well funded start-ups are eager to use radically new technologies as their companies have no production switching costs since no serial production exists under their roof.

          Product maturity and market placement is always connected with performance and Porsche obviously didn’t live in the optimal time for IWMs. Materials for electromagnetic parts and motor mechanical structure got improved, know-how on power electronics was updated so a lot of new IPR was generated from his pioneering years. Nowadays the status is different and you have Protean’s PD18 with 1250Nm, Schaeffler’s e-Drive with 700Nm and Elaphe’s L1500 with 1500Nm, etc.

          Check the maturity of them:
          Protean (probably the most financed of all IWM companies):

          Elaphe (most likely close to Protean, based on the newsletters):

          The fastest vehicle I’ve seen with pure IWM drive:
          check the motor specs on their page, I’ve read somewhere the weight of L1500 is below 35kg:

          Schaeffler’s e-drive (300k employees, owns Continental…):

          Brembo (probabaly the best brake manufacturer in the world, supplies Tesla S, 3 and Roadster#2):


          First “production” car with IWM, a luxury retro coupe:

          Also Dutch eTraction covers larger segments such as road buses in Scandinavia:

          and Elaphe transport applications in Indonesia:

          So you see, there is a lot of going on and can you imagine to have the mentioned torque at less than 30kg of added unsprung weight? Hill climbing for light EVs is obviously not an issue, however you need to define the right requirements (hill climbing ability, top speed, acceleration, GVW, voltage, number of motors, etc.), select the right product + manufacturer for the IWM. The mentioned companies probably have many experts working only on the motor part and I cannot imagine if you wanted to design the vehicle with the propulsion components on your own. Respect if you accomplished everything else except the propulsion to meet some market drive requirements…

          It seems there is no stopping for this technology only a matter of time when you will be using it 🙂