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In this paper, an improved magnetic equivalent circuit (MEC) is applied to calculate the nonlinear magnetic field in an interior-type permanent-magnet (IPM) brushless DC (BLDC) motor. Compared with the finite element method, the MEC method is much more time efficient, whereas compared with the conventional MEC method, the improved MEC is more accurate since it takes the complicate topological structure of the motor into account. A rough design of the IPM BLDC motor was firstly conducted by the improved MEC method. The particle swarm optimization (PSO) algorithm is then employed to refine the design for optimal structural parameters that result in the lowest cost and highest performance.