The benefits of running an electric motor versus a traditional, internal combustion engine are many: instant power delivery, energy regeneration, low noise levels, zero emissions, and far fewer moving parts. But the challenges are also daunting: from sufficient power supply, high production costs, and myriad of other details that have so far kept electric vehicles a relatively tiny minority.
Despite the struggles, Volvo believes that the future is fully electric and it has ramped up research and development of its electric motors. The company recently opened a brand-new electric motor lab in Shanghai, China as the latest addition to its global network of facilities for the development and testing of electric car components.
The Shanghai lab is the fourth addition by Volvo, joining the e-motor development lab in Gothenburg, Sweden, and its state-of-the-art battery labs in China and Sweden. It became operational last month and will mainly focus on e-motor development for use in fully electric and hybrid cars based on Volvo Cars’ forthcoming SPA 2 modular vehicular architecture.
The development of its in-house e-motor is crucial for its interplay with battery and power electronics. Developing its own e-motors rather than sourcing from a third party will allow engineers to optimize electric motors and the entire electric driveline in future automobiles. This approach will allow engineers to make further gains in energy efficiency and overall performance.
“Through in-house design and development, we can fine-tune our e-motors to ever better levels,” says Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo Cars. “By constantly improving their overall performance levels in terms of energy efficiency and comfort, we create an electric driving experience that is unique to Volvo.”
The investments in e-motor design and development represent yet another step toward Volvo Cars’s climate ambitions and electrification strategy. By 2025 it aims to have 50% of its sales coming from fully electric vehicles. By 2040 it aims to become climate-neutral. Beyond addressing tailpipe emissions through electrification, Volvo is aiming to reduce its carbon footprint through changes in its manufacturing network and wider operations, supply chain, and through recycling and reuse of materials.
As a first tangible step toward its 2040 vision the company aims to reduce its life-cycle carbon footprint per car by 40% between 2018 and 2025. If everything goes as planned, the next generation of Volvo cars will be the cleanest and most efficient ever built.