June 12, 2024
Asheville, North Carolina
Motors

Helix’s Revolutionary Electric Motor Pushes Performance Boundaries for EVs

In the rapidly evolving landscape of electric vehicles (EVs), UK-based Helix is crafting a revolution. Building on a storied automotive and motorsport heritage, the company has unveiled its latest feat of engineering: the Scalable Core Technology (SCT). This innovative technology serves as the backbone for Helix’s most powerful pure battery electric vehicle (BEV) motor yet, the SPX177.

The SCT framework offers a suite of products divided into three categories: Stock, Configured, and Custom, each fulfilling a unique range of powertrain requirements. This structure allows clients to benefit from high-power, off-the-shelf solutions at minimum cost and optimized customization levels.

At the forefront of this remarkable innovation is Helix’s X-Division, which has been instrumental in pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable. The team’s latest triumph, the SPX177, is testament to their relentless pursuit of innovation. Weighing just 28kg and delivering an astonishing 650kW of continuous power, it’s the company’s most potent BEV motor to date.

This remarkable feat has been overseen by Derek Jordanou-Bailey, Chief Engineer at Helix. Previously part of the Integral Powertrain and Mercedes-AMG HPP teams, Jordanou-Bailey’s wealth of experience has been instrumental in bringing this ground-breaking motor to life. He elucidates, “Our SCT is intended to deliver products that are tailored to customer requirements and easily manufactured in large production runs. The SPX177 motor is a paradigm shift, focusing on ultimate performance, even though the machine would be more demanding to manufacture.”

The SPX177 is remarkably compact, weighing just 41kg, including a 13kg inverter. It employs a 2x 3-phase motor, with its current shared across two inverters. This approach is necessary to meet the phase current demands at extremely high power levels. The high power density of both the motor and inverter sets the SPX177 apart, putting it on par with high-performance motors seen in Formula 1 or Formula E.

While the SPX177 delivers unparalleled power, it does so with a minimal footprint. Even compared to the latest boosted internal combustion engines, the SPX177 weighs less than one-seventh for equivalent continuous power output. However, Jordanou-Bailey concedes that the battery packs weigh significantly more than an IC engine’s fuel store. This characteristic offers the flexibility to optimize the vehicle’s architecture for a low center of gravity and cleaner aerodynamics.

With the SPX177, we’ve set out to create a motor that minimizes losses and heat, especially at high speed. This demanded a new approach to motor winding and resulted in a low inductance machine. Despite the challenges, our software team developed a new way of controlling phase currents in the motor,

Jordanou-Bailey

The result is a remarkable machine that has surpassed initial power expectations, largely attributed to meticulous attention to detail. A proposal for an initial small production batch is under way. In the meantime, Helix is supporting the integration of the power unit into the customer’s vehicle.

In an era when electric vehicle technology is gaining momentum, Helix’s advancements herald a promising future. The SPX177 motor is a testament to the company’s commitment to innovation and performance, forging a new path in the automotive industry.

Analyzing the Pros and Cons of the Helix’s SPX177 Electric Motor

In the rapidly evolving landscape of electric vehicle (EV) technology, Helix’s SPX177 motor has emerged as a game-changing innovation. This highly advanced electric motor, built upon the unique Scalable Core Technology (SCT), is a testament to Helix’s commitment to pushing performance boundaries. As with any groundbreaking technology, it presents a unique set of advantages and challenges that could influence its adoption in the EV industry. In this section, we will examine the significant pros and cons of this innovative electric motor to help stakeholders make an informed decision.

Pros:

  1. High Power-to-Weight Ratio: The SPX177 motor’s design allows it to deliver an impressive 650kW of continuous power while weighing just 28kg (41kg including the inverter). This exceptional power-to-weight ratio outperforms many current internal combustion engines, making it highly suitable for performance-oriented vehicles like hypercars.
  2. Scalable Core Technology (SCT): SCT provides adaptability to various powertrain requirements through its three product levels – Stock, Configured, and Custom. This modularity means the motor can be optimized to meet specific performance or manufacturing requirements, providing a clear pathway from prototype to production.
  3. Advanced Phase Current Control: The software team at Helix developed a new way to control the phase currents in the SPX177 motor. This advanced approach helps manage power delivery and motor efficiency, particularly at high speeds, making the SPX177 suitable for high-performance applications.
  4. Compact and Flexible Installation: With its compact size and low mass, the SPX177 motor provides flexibility in installation. This allows for optimizing vehicle architecture for a lower center of gravity and cleaner aerodynamics, contributing to improved performance and handling in EVs.
  5. Proven Performance: The SPX177 motor was designed and built by a skilled team, leveraging a strong motorsport heritage. This pedigree is reflected in the motor’s exceptional power delivery, durability, and cooling efficiency, promising a high level of reliability and performance in real-world applications.

Cons:

  1. The high-performance design of the SPX177, involving complex phase current control and low inductance, can present manufacturing challenges. Its architecture requires precise execution, which can potentially increase manufacturing time and complexity. This could impact feasibility for mass production.
  2. While the SPX177 motor itself boasts a high power-to-weight ratio, the associated battery pack required to drive it is significantly heavier. For example, in contrast with internal combustion engines, where the fuel’s weight is relatively negligible, the battery system in an EV contributes significantly to the vehicle’s overall weight. This increases the load on the motor and could impact the vehicle’s performance and energy efficiency.
  3. The SPX177’s impressive output of 650kW of continuous power can pose substantial demands on the energy storage systems of electric vehicles. To sustain such high power levels, the EV would require advanced battery technologies with high energy densities or larger battery systems. These prerequisites might increase costs, vehicle weight, and could present challenges regarding vehicle design and energy management.

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