As the market for hybrid-electric and electric vehicles has grown, so too has the demand for ever-higher performing magnet wires. Suppliers, such as Superior Essex, are gearing up their R&D operations and launching new products tailored to this increasingly important customer base.
The market for hybrid-electric (HEV) and electric vehicles (EV) is growing at a rapid pace. In 2011 there were less than 100,000 EVs on the road globally. Today there are more than a million. During this time HEV and EV manufacturers have worked hard to gain public acceptance, by improving both the efficiency and reliability of their electric motors. One way they have achieved this higher performance is by using ever higher grades of electrical steel in the magnetic cores. Automakers, at the same time, have placed greater demands on their winding wire suppliers, asking for higher dielectric strength, thermal performance and resistance to chemicals from the magnet wire insulation.
“Keeping pace with the speed of development in the HEV and EV industry has been challenging to say the least but rewarding at the same time,” said Baber Inayat, vice-president of Technology & Customer Care at magnet wire supplier, Superior Essex. “We’ve always made incremental improvements to our products but the last few years have required us to make serious investments in our R&D operations and make a leapfrog in technology. We’ve also been working closer than ever before with motor designers and co-innovating with them to ensure the best possible performance from their end product.”
Superior Essex innovations in response to the demands of the HEV and EV markets have spanned both materials and processes. Last year the company was granted a patent for a brand new magnet wire insulation for higher voltage applications, which it will be promoting at the forthcoming CWIEME Berlin exhibition for coil winding, insulation and electrical manufacturing. The magnet wire supplier has also installed a state-of-the-art surface flaw detection system as part of its standard manufacturing process to gain a competitive edge in product quality.
Meanwhile, Superior Essex has sought to cater to differing regional requirements of the HEV and EV industries. So far the USA has proved the biggest driver of HEV and EV growth, closely followed by China and Japan. Significant gains have also been made by several European automakers.
“In the spirit of positive performance and competition, each automaker around the globe has developed distinct motor designs requiring diverse magnet wire characteristics to differentiate themselves. Sourcing the right magnet wire locally can be tricky, if a customer decides to begin manufacturing their design on a new continent. As one of the largest magnet wire suppliers in the world with global manufacturing locations, we have the knowledge and expertise to deliver the right combination of characteristics regardless of where the motor is being manufactured and where it was originally designed,” Inayat said.