Aisin’s Efforts to Improve Competitiveness in e-Axle Technology
Aisin is working to improve the technological competitiveness of its electric drive system, the e-axle. In addition to miniaturization, which has been attracting attention so far, we plan to introduce a “third generation” that is half the size of existing products in 2027. At the same time, we plan to review the elements of the e-axle to improve efficiency. As part of this initiative, Aisin has invested in the Tohoku Magnet Institute (TMI) in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, and has developed a motor for e-axles using its magnetic materials. This new motor can cut energy losses in half. Aisin aims to bring this motor to market by 2029.
Development of motors for e-axles using NANOMET
To improve the efficiency of the e-axle, various methods are being researched, such as the method of winding the copper wire of the motor and the thinness of the electromagnetic steel sheet. Aisin has achieved high efficiency by adopting the magnetic material “Nanomet” developed by TMI, a venture company originating from Tohoku University, in the stator of the motor. Takuma Era, Group Manager of the Aisin EV Propulsion Center Motor Development Department, said, “It’s difficult to dramatically improve motor efficiency, but we can expect significant improvements by changing materials.”
Characteristics of Nanomet and Contribution to Higher Efficiency
NANOMET is a magnetic material that combines the characteristics of “high saturation magnetic flux density” and “ultra-low core loss”. Compared to the electromagnetic steel sheets that are generally used in motors for e-axles, Nanomet can reduce material resistance even with the same size.
Handling and manufacturing technology of thin and fragile NANOMET
However, NANOMET is thin and fragile. Aisin utilizes the know-how it has cultivated through the development and manufacturing of automotive parts, and uses several thousand sheets of NANOMET with a thickness of approximately 25 micrometers to solidify and use it as a material for motors for e-axles. Era, group leader, said, “Improving the efficiency of the e-axle is the most important issue. The motor alone can significantly reduce the energy consumption of the vehicle.” is going to proceed.
Intensifying competition in the electric vehicle market and Aisin’s strategy
Competitors such as Germany’s Bosch and Japan’s Nidek are also making large-scale investments in e-axles, which are the main power source for electric vehicles (EVs), and competition is intensifying. Aisin President Moritaka Yoshida said, “Electrification is positioned as the most important issue, and the e-axle is our main product.” In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, we expect to sell 2.36 million electric units, an increase of 1 million units year-on-year. The competition in the development and production of e-axles in terms of quality and quantity is likely to intensify.
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