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The paper presents an approach to minimization of the cogging torque in permanent magnet (PM) machines using surface-mounted magnets with discrete skew angle. For the purpose of determining the proper arrangement of PM-pole slices, an optimization procedure based on a genetic algorithm is applied. The torque and objective function are determined from a simplified model for torque calculation only partially supported by three-dimensional (3-D) field solution. The results are validated against the 3-D finite-element model as well as experimental data obtained from a prototype machine. A new outer-rotor brushless dc motor motor for an electric fan is considered as a sample model.