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Innovation

Aug 03, 2004
Electric vehicle, Eco-Rick

Electric motors generally have a configuration that can be imagined as a circle within a circle—the outer one fixed and the inner one rotating, with a fixed air-gap between the two. Speed and torque changes necessitate a gear box. The NTU motor, on the other hand can be imagined as a rotating disc facing a fixed disc with the gap between them being variable. This variability enables speed and torque changes without the need for a mechanical gearbox. Consequently this motor—christened,"Axial Flux Motor"—can be directly mounted on the axle of a vehicle.

Under a license from Patterson and NTU, the motor was further developed in Virginia, USA. A team in George Washington University, under the leadership of Prof. Nabih Bedewi, have taken the Patterson concept to a nearly unbeatable efficiency of 95%. Bedewi’s team consists of Eric Takamura, a hands-on solar car builder, Joel Jermakian, an ex-NASA scientist and Anubhav Sethi, an MBA. They were successfully selling the pancake shaped motor to the small solar car market. Their company New generation Motors [NGM] had been having funding problems.

That was when Rahul Bajaj committed his company, Bajaj Motors, to the Eco-Rick project. Bajaj has acquired exclusive licence to manufacture and market NGM drives. They have invested $5 million into a production facility in Waluj near Pune;that is something NGM was not in a position to do. Auto-rickshaws are at the low end of the auto-chain and will permit slow improvements as the market grows. They also, give NGM and Bajaj big market volumes. Beneath it all, is also a jobs transfer story; NGM manufacturing will be entirely in India. Batteries will be developed by Exide in Ahmedabad. It’s obvious the strategy benefits everyone.

Most of all the environment. If the Bajaj Eco-Rick is successful we will have cleaner, quieter public spaces. Commuters will have affordable transportation. In good time, Bajaj hopes to use NGM motors in scooters and bikes. Just, imagine that scene!

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