(Blog from Indy) 2011 SAE Powertrain Electric Motors Symposium

  • 23-Mar-2011 10:05 EDT

SAE Magazines Senior Editor Lindsay Brooke.

8:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 23, Indianapolis: Maybe it’s ironic that SAE International is holding its first U.S. symposium on electric motor technology here in Indy, the city that’s synonymous with high-revving, methanol-gulping combustion engines. Or maybe the downtown Hyatt Regency simply gave us a killer deal. No matter. Today’s focus on e-motors is the first major professional event of its kind in North America, and the logical follow-on to SAE’s inaugural e-motor symposium held last year in Germany. Back by popular demand, indeed.

Electric motors are enjoying a serious renaissance in the auto industry. They’re returning to a role they last played in the 1920s—powering cars, trucks, and buses. And they’re attracting millions in R&D funding. The discussions surrounding e-motors are changing rapidly, too. Not long ago, when I heard an engineer talking about e-motors, it was typically about small components—servos, stepper motors, door actuators, electric power steering systems.

Now, the industry’s buzzing about new architectures for traction motors. Alternatives to rare-earth magnets. New concepts for boosting power and torque density, and managing heat. New motor-control strategies. In-house design and manufacturing vs. outsourced. Driving down cost. And a lot more.

That’s why 120 engineers and other industry experts have come to Indy for today’s SAE tech symposium. They’ll hear, and network with, 10 experts who are presenting and speaking on panels. In the adjacent area, 12 suppliers have sold-out the exhibit space.

With hundreds of new electrified vehicles currently in the global development pipeline, demand for more efficient and powerful electric drive systems is growing. Analysts and forecasters tell me annual production of e-motors designed to power vehicles is expected to grow well into the millions this decade. Today’s E-Motor Symposium seems like a great place to catch the latest info (can you say “torque ripple?”) and meet some key players.

More to come at the lunch break.

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