Home > News > Content

Induction Versus DC Brushless Motors

Apr 18, 2017

Wally Rippel is a long-time proponent of electric vehicles. Prior to joining Tesla Motors, he was an engineer at AeroVironment, where he helped develop the EV1 for General Motors and was featured in the documentary movie, Who Killed the Electric Car? Wally has also worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on electric vehicle battery research, among other projects. In 1968, as a Caltechundergraduate student, he built an electric car (a converted 1958 Volkswagen microbus) and won theGreat Transcontinental Electric Car Race against MIT.

One Size Does Not Fit All
In that odious world of gas powered vehicles, engines are not all alike. There are flat-heads, Hemis, straight, opposed, and V configurations. And on and on. One would have thought that, years ago, someone would have figured out which was best. That would have ended all the choices and thereafter only the one best engine type would be in production. Not so. There is no one best engine type, rather there are different types of engines to suit personal requirements, such as price and performance. This is also true for electric vehicle drives.

Back when I had hair on my head and carried a slide rule, there were lead acid batteries, DC brush motors, and contactor controllers. Today, none of these remain (including my hair). Lead has been replaced by lithium and DC by either DC brushless or induction. Contactors, meanwhile, have given way to modulating inverters. So, will each of these elements also become obsolete in the near future or is it possible that some “stability” may be at hand? Without a good crystal ball, it is hard to predict the future. My guess, however, is that we will see both induction and brushless machines “duke it out” for many years to come. Each will have its loyal proponents and religious detractors.