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The performance of a novel multilevel six-switch (SS) three-phase inverter drive is examined for low-voltage high-speed motor applications. The switching losses of hard-switched voltage-source-inverter topologies place limits on the maximum feasible switching frequency. When operating at higher fundamental frequencies, this results in low-frequency modulation ratios and either high load harmonic currents that cause excessive rotor heating or larger than desired output reactors with a large fundamental voltage drop. The multilevel inverter structure examined offers an increased number of output pulsewidth-modulated (PWM) voltage levels, higher frequency PWM output waveforms, reduced dead-time effects, and a significant reduction in harmonic content. These features reduce the total losses in the motor load when compared to the standard SS three-phase inverter. The harmonic reduction provided by the multilevel topology relative to the standard inverter is experimentally demonstrated with a 15-hp 18 000-r/min induction machine.