Zero Motorcycles just signed a deal to explore an interesting new technology which could improve its bikes’ efficiency. Earlier this week, Zero and Exro Technologies announced their companies were working together to adapt Exro’s coil drive technology to Zero’s SR/S powertrain.
The “coil drive” term really refers to Exro’s motor control technology, not some Star Trek-style powertrain. Exro says its tech allows for two separate torque profiles in an electric motor. The first profile can be calibrated for low-speed, high-torque output, while the second is configured for high-speed operation. In effect, this turns an electric motor into a “two-speed” design that theoretically uses less energy, as each operating mode can be design for maximum energy efficiency. It’s all managed by a controller, which selects the appropriate torque profile for any given scenario.
Why design such a system? Exro says traditional electric motor design sees components unable to meet the demands of increased performance. As per Exro, ” This means either oversizing the equipment, adding additional motors, or implementing heavy mechanical geared solutions. Exro offers a new solution for system optimization through implementation of the technology which can yield the following results: increased drive cycle efficiency, reduced system volume, reduce weight, expanded torque and speed capabilities. Exro allows the application to achieve more with less energy consumed.”
Essentially, Exro’s saying its technology allows for smaller, more capable, more efficient electric motors.
This is particularly appealing for electric motorcycle manufacturers, who are always trying to increase battery range in their machines, and also make them faster. Simply stuffing in a bigger battery won’t do—it just makes the bike more heavy. Instead, the manufacturers need to figure out how to make their batteries, motors and chargers all more efficient, which is why Zero is cooperating with Exro on this deal.