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Permanent-magnet-assisted synchronous reluctance (PMSynRel) machines are generally well suited for sensorless operation at all speeds since the rotor topology possesses a magnetic saliency. However, magnetic saturation can result in a vanishing differential saliency which renders sensorless control at certain operating points difficult (or even impossible) at low speed. In this paper, an optimization procedure, based on results from finite-element (FEM)-based simulations, is proposed. As output, current reference trajectories are obtained in which copper losses are kept at minimum, while the capability for sensorless control is still maintained. The results from the FEM-based simulations are in good agreement with the corresponding experimental results. For the experimental prototype in consideration, the torque limit when operating sensorless at low speed is increased substantially from below 45% to around 95% of its rated value with only slightly increased copper losses. Additionally, the impact of position-dependent harmonics on the magnetic cross saturation (affecting the steady-state position estimation error) is found to be substantial. This highlights that this spatial variation should be taken into consideration for accurate prediction of performance during sensorless operation even if the winding of the machine is of the conventional distributed type.