Zero Motorcycles' Revolutionary Passively Air-Cooled Interior Permanent Magnet Motor (Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing. USA 2017)

Mr Abe Askenazi, Chief Technology Officer & Product Manager
Zero Motorcycles
United States


USA 2017 Audio Presentation - Zero Motorcycles*
USA 2017 Video Presentation - Zero Motorcycles*

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Presentation Summary

Light vehicles have unique performance requirements, which drive the development of unique powertrain solutions. With the majority of the vehicle packaging space available being reserved for a large lithium-ion battery pack, this leaves a very small volume to package an electric motor. As customers demand higher levels of performance at increasingly competitive prices vs. the incumbent internal combustion powered competition, a high degree of innovation has been required to develop a cost effective solution with high power density, high efficiency, and outstanding reliability / durability.
After more than five years of adapting third-party motors, Zero realized the ideal solution to solve these challenges was to develop a bespoke design. Thus, in 2013 Zero launched its first proprietary motor - a patented, radial surface mount permanent magnet (SMPM) brushless design. This first "Z-Force" motor delivered impressive torque and a broad power band in an efficient, compact, fully-sealed package requiring no routine maintenance. This motor's broad performance allowed a direct connection to the drive wheel (i.e. no need for a transmission), which, coupled its passively air-cooled architecture, delivered a quiet, simple, and robust powertrain that truly transformed the customer experience.
Not willing to rest on our laurels, Zero set about to improve on the SMPM motor and accomplish an even more difficult task - the development of an Interior Permanent Magnet (IPM) rotor with three exacting goals: (1) fit within the SMPM's casing dimensions and ideally use the same stator, (2) not sacrifice any power or torque, and (3) not add rotational inertia in order to maintain responsiveness. In 2016, Zero successfully delivered its second generation motor - an innovative, patented IPM design that was electromagnetically & structurally "analysis-driven" for performance, and far more manufacture-able and cost effective than the previous generation. Through relentless optimization, this motor delivered significant improvement in its thermal capabilities, resulting in increased efficiency and a further enhanced customer experience.

Speaker Biography (Abe Askenazi)

Abe is a passionate engineer and motorcyclist who did his Master's Thesis on "The Dynamics of Motorcycles." Abe worked at Buell Motorcycle Co. for 15 years, where he rose to the position of Sr. Director of Analysis, Test and Engineering Process, reporting to Erik Buell and actively participating in Harley-Davidson Inc.'s Senior Leadership Group. He provided increasing levels of leadership to multi-functional teams in the delivery of 26 high performance motorcycle models across four different platforms, resulting in the production of over 130k vehicles yielding over $1B in sales.
In 2010, Abe was recruited by Zero Motorcycles as VP of Engineering to head the development and product management of a full line of industry‑leading, on- and off-road electric Motorcycles. In 2011, Abe was promoted to the role of Chief Technology Officer and led his team in delivering the first mass-produced electric motorcycles capable of exceeding 100 miles on a single charge, with batteries that last up to 300,000 miles, and with powertrains that are completely maintenance-free.
Abe has numerous patents for motorcycle components and has published a textbook and multiple articles on analytical engineering.

Company Profile (Zero Motorcycles)

Zero Motorcycles logo
Zero Motorcycles is the next step in motorcycle evolution. By combining the best aspects of a traditional motorcycle with today's most advanced technology, Zero produces high performance electric motorcycles that are lightweight, efficient, fast off the line and fun to ride. Each motorcycle is optimized from the ground up to leverage the revolutionary Z-Force™ electric powertrain and uses a specially designed rigid, aircraft-grade aluminum frame to minimize weight.
Once a burning idea conceived inside a Santa Cruz, California garage, Zero has rapidly grown into an internationally known motorcycle company. The result is groundbreaking motorcycle innovation that is available for customers to own today. Since 2006, when the first prototypes were produced, Zero has invited motorcyclists to go for a ride. Some things are better experienced than explained.
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