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ZF's new e-motor concept eliminates rare-earth magnets

ZF has announced the development of a new electric motor that eliminates the need for magnets found in traditional electric drive motors. The company’s new I2SM with inductive exciter technology replaces permanent-magnet synchronous machines (PSM) and transfers energy using coils to generate a magnetic field rather than mechanical contact. The new system offers the opportunity to decouple ZF’s e-motor production from geopolitical and sustainability concerns associated with mining rare-earth magnets.

ZF says the inductive current transmission unit offers a more compact motor design and comes without a drop-off in performance compared to a traditional PSM. The new system eliminates the need for brush elements or slip rings, reducing axial width by 90 mm compared to PSM motors. It also eliminates the drag losses created in traditional PSM e-motors, enabling better efficiency on long highway trips at high speed.

ZF plans to offer I2SM technology in its e-motor platform for both passenger car and commercial vehicle segments. Customers can choose 400-volt or 800-volt architecture variants.