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This paper discusses the performance attributes of the open-slot, modular-wound, external-rotor, topology of electrical machine. Combinations of pole and slot numbers are presented for which the winding factor is maximal and torque ripple is minimal. An optimization of the magnetic circuit design of six promising pole-slot configurations is undertaken using a parametric finite element model (FEM) combined with a genetic algorithm (GA). These designs are benchmarked against a conventional 1.5 slots/pole external-rotor brushless dc machine. These candidate electrical machine versions are characterized by having the same external-rotor diameter, total slot area available for the winding and by equal volumes of permanent magnet (PM). Based on the analysis, the most promising motor structure was selected and a prototype wheel-hub motor has been built for application in a small electrical vehicle. Test data from the prototype is used to validate the findings of the initial analyses and practically demonstrate the attributes of the topology.