Bentley working with IAAPS on new electric car project

11 Aug 2020

Bentley teams up with Bath automotive experts in drive to develop luxury electric car


August 11, 2020


Researchers at the University of Bath’s Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) are to work with engineers from luxury automotive firm Bentley Motors on a three-year study that promises to transform electric vehicles.

The project, which will be among the first to be undertaken in the centre of excellence for ultra-low emission vehicles – scheduled to open next year on the Bristol & Bath Science Park – aims to develop a fully integrated, recyclable e-axle that will support electric vehicle (EV) architectures.

Funded by the government’s Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and Innovate UK innovation agency, it will bring together the IAAPS centre in a nine-strong consortium tasked with realising Bentley’s ambition to lead sustainable luxury mobility ahead of production of the first fully electric Bentley by 2026.

Called OCTOPUS (Optimised Components, Test and simulatiOn, toolkits for Powertrains which integrate Ultra high speed motor Solutions), the project follows an initial 18-month investigation that led to a technological breakthrough in electric drive systems for high-performance vehicles.

The system was both cost effective and recyclable at its end of life and exceeded pre-existing permanent magnet motor performance while also removing the need for both rare-earth magnets and copper windings.

OCTOPUS will take this leading-edge motor, power electronics and packaging transmission design and add next-generation materials, manufacturing processes, simulation and test cycles to make a full e-axle powertrain with unique levels of integration and revolutionary performance characteristics suitable for real-world application by 2026.

The consortium includes HiEta Technologies which, like IAAPS, is based on the Bristol & Bath Science Park. HiEta will produce advanced-manufactured components for the powertrain’s thermal management and rotor systems.

Bentley Motors director of powertrain engineering Stefan Fischer said the car maker had made no secret of its ambition to lead the way in the delivery of sustainable luxury mobility through its Beyond100 initiative.

“We have a clear roadmap to electrify our entire model range by 2023, starting with the Bentayga Hybrid, and our next goal moves towards a fully electric Bentley by 2026,” he said.

“However today, there remains challenges and package constraints on the viability and flexibility of electric vehicle powertrains that are able to fully support EV architectures.

“With the industry, technologies and cars changing faster than ever before, research projects such as OCTOPUS are crucial to deliver innovative technologies and overcome challenges for the next generation of mobility solutions.”

IAAPS deputy academic director Prof Sam Akehurst added: “This is a highly exciting and innovative project to engage with. It is great to be working with Bentley and the other partners to deliver a product requiring both high performance and high refinement.”

IAAPS is expected to support 1,900 high-value jobs and stimulate more than £67m in additional automotive research investment by 2025, creating an additional turnover of £800m for the UK automotive sector.

When fully operational the centre itself will create more than 100 jobs on-site.

It builds on more than four decades of advanced propulsion system expertise at the University of Bath and will help the UK transition to low carbon transportation as part of its 2050 net zero target.