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German automaker Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes) recently announced the acquisition of Oxford, United Kingdom-based company YASA. YASA is a pioneer in next-generation electric drive technology. This technology-centric acquisition would also go well with the recent decision taken by Mercedes to go all-electric by 2022 and have battery electric vehicles in all segments the company operates.
Under the terms of the acquisition, YASA will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, developing ultra-high-performance e-motors, while retaining its own brand, team, facilities and continuing to supply existing automotive supercar customers. Mercedes expects YASA to develop best-in-class electric drive innovations to give the German automaker’s electric vehicles exceptional performance. Mercedes was working with YASA since 2019.
YASA was founded in 2009 by Dr. Tim Woolmer and incorporated in 2009 with its headquarters and production facility in Oxford, UK. Since the very beginning, YASA has worked to enhance the motor technology originally invented by Dr. Woolmer. YASA supplies Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) in the automotive industry with innovative solutions based around its axial-flux electric motors and controllers. Prior to this acquisition, a total of US$56.2 million was raised over the course of eight funding rounds, with Parkwalk Advisors being the largest investor and shareholder in the company. The name “YASA” is derived from the proprietary yokeless and segmented armature axial-flux motors of the company.
After this, YASA and its employees will continue to operate from the UK. YASA will provide electric motors for Mercedes-Benz’s AMG.EA electric-only platform, while also acting as an innovation partner pioneering new electric drive technology for the Group.
YASA’s Axial-flux motors are known to offer the highest efficiency and power density in the smallest size and weight classes. According to YASA, a core advantage of axial-flux motors is that their spinning rotor has a larger diameter because it rotates alongside the stator instead of inside it. As torque equals forces multiplied by radius, the axial-flux motor offers a larger radius which effectively yields greater torque from the same force applied.
An axial-flux motor typically offers a 30% higher torque density over a conventional, radial electric motor. The design used by YASA also removes the stator yoke, thus reducing stator iron mass by 80%. This brings a 30% power density advantage and a 5% range benefit in cars over the more commonly used radial electric motors.
It is also noted that YASA has filed patents on cooling systems and mechanisms, viz. “machine cooling systems”, “cooling arrangement for power semiconductor devices” etc. It is expected YASA will continue to rapidly improve the axial-flux technology and develop stronger expertise now that they are part of such a large auto-maker.