Executive Insights

Bringing Personality to the Automotive e-Motor

By Altair | March 15, 2021

From a rumbling American V8 to a free-revving Italian twin-cam, in many cars the engine is central to the driving experience. That’s why manufacturers typically devote considerable effort to designing-in just the right mix of power, acceleration, efficiency, and acoustic feedback for the make and model concerned. 

In developing the first generation of electric vehicle (EV) motors, OEMs faced rather different priorities. Safety, manufacturability, and range were inevitably much higher on the agenda than any consideration of ‘character.’

That’s changing fast. As EVs mature, so do the demands being placed on designers. OEMs are looking beyond generic solutions and expecting their e-motors to display real personality. Take a company like Porsche. When it replaces the internal combustion engine with battery power, there’s a pressing need to maintain brand values established over the past 90 years.    

Faced with these fresh challenges, design processes need to be far more efficient, embracing new methods and workflows. Which is exactly where Altair comes in. 

Altair pioneered simulation-driven structural design for the automotive sector. However, for many e-motor development processes, that’s a novel concept. Simulation is often used purely for verification. And in some organizations, there’s still a siloed approach to designing the e-motor and its many associated systems.

This can lead to serious problems for design synchronization. Different teams are on different pages, and the implications of changes in one design are not automatically reflected in others. Constant resynchronization adds time, cost, and confusion. Management teams can find it hard to identify the model on which to base decisions. 

Many in-house engineering teams have tried developing their own tools to design and analyze e-motor systems but developing tools is not their specialty and might distract them from what they are really good at – developing e-motors systems. Moreover, it’s demanding in terms of internal support and essential knowledge can be lost if a key employee moves on. 

In contrast, simulation software and processes are at the very heart of Altair’s mission. Our multi-physics capability, which includes world-class electromagnetic simulation in the form of Altair Flux™ and Altair FluxMotor™, enables all elements of the system design to be addressed simultaneously. The relentless back and forth between siloes is eliminated and the number of design loops reduced dramatically. 

Reaching better design outcomes faster is a three-stage journey: methods developmentautomation and democratization. So, with everyone on the same multi-physics roadmap, attention turns to automating routine processes. Here, our commitment to OpenAPI makes it easy to interface software. Similarly, Altair’s passion for democratization means simulation is no longer the preserve of experts. 

Another key concept is the use of ‘Right Fidelity Models.’ I stressed the importance of this principle in an earlier blog post. The aim is to give decision makers enough detail to run meaningful ‘what ifs’ – and reach the right conclusions without the high time-cost of unnecessarily complex models. Altair’s solutions make it feasible to run many more simulations than was previously possible.

We’re data driven too. EV manufacturers have a fast-growing lake of real-world data from which to draw. We know how to put artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to work, drawing insight quickly from what might otherwise be a case of information overload.

While this design approach makes sense in any domain, the benefits are particularly critical in the electric vehicle sector. Competitive pressures are intensifying and rapid progress in battery range and efficiency can be achieved without giving up the unique brand qualities that drivers desire.    

We’ve come a long way since the days of the Model T Ford and “any color as long as it's black.” Many of us desire a car that reflects our personality, aspirations, and values. For some, the fact that their car is emissions free will be enough. But when your customers want even more from their driving experience, Altair’s comprehensive e-vehicle development solutions will help you deliver the added thrill, comfort, and excitement they crave.