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Electric city commuters are vehicles used for commuting from suburbs to inner cities and for movement within cities. Because of the short distances that they cover and their small battery size, such vehicles are beginning to attract attention. Generally, a high-performance permanent magnet (PM) composed of rare earth elements, such as neodymium and dysprosium, is used in the in-wheel PM synchronous motor (PMSM) of an electric city commuter. However, rising prices of rare earth elements and export restrictions on them are serious problems. Development of an in-wheel PMSM that does not utilize rare earth PMs is therefore highly desirable for electric city commuter vehicles. Accordingly, our research group has focused on a surface PM type axial gap structure that can achieve a high torque density and a short motor length in the axial direction. The designed motor structure with ferrite PMs replacing the rare earth PMs and the results of a 3-D finite element analysis are introduced in detail in this paper. Moreover, to examine the fundamental characteristics of the designed motor, a prototype is produced and tested.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2012