EVR Motors' Opher Doron: 'We are looking at a base in India for manufacturing'

by Nilesh Wadhwa 09 Mar 2022

Former VP, GM - Space Division for Israel Aerospace Industries and now CEO of EVR Motors, shares his plans to collaborate with Tier 1s and OEMs in India to make electric vehicle motors. 

Tell us a bit about the origins of EVR Motors?
We were founded in 2012 by Victor Kislev, now the CTO, Ruslan Shabinski ,VP - R&D and Eli Rozinsky, President.  Kislev is a motor designer for submarines steering systems while Ruslan was an automotive engineer who connected with Rozinsky, an electrical engineer with experience in start-ups. The name is an acronym of  the first letters of the co-founders. Back in 2012, it seemed that the electric vehicle adoption would start but in Israel it stalled, and the co-founders went over to develop generators for wind turbines. In 2018, they went back to electric motors for automobiles. They realised that the market for EVs was much bigger. Around this time, we got a host of new investors led by one of Israel’s tech gurus and a leading investor, Marius Nacht, founder of Check Point. We have a team of over 25 people, many with doctorates. Almost everyone is experienced and are experts in electric motors. The average age is 55 years. We are not a group of youngsters but people with decades of experience.

What is your India strategy — will you licence your product in India?
Our route we intend to take is  licensing. We do not want to go for contract manufacturing. EVR will work with OEMs and Tier- 1s to define specific motors. We will support them for setting up the manufacturing, provide parts where we have an upside and get as many motors as possible on the road. We will position ourselves as technology partners. EVR is also looking at establishing a facility in India not just for marketing but also to support development and manufacturing of volume parts. We are also looking at making high-end motors.

What requirements do you see from India as compared to other global markets?
When we started work on our first motor, we asked ourselves what motor we would like to make and where will we like to go with it. We started with a smaller air-cooled motor, which is a better entry-level one  compared to going directly for the big stuff. That’s when we decided to do a two-wheeler motor and once we were working on that we started looking at different markets. India is by far the most exciting market for electric two- and three-wheelers in the world. The huge push towards electrification from the government is encouraging. From our point of view, India has got a hugely competent base for manufacturing and our business model is of partnerships. We don’t want to make tens of thousands of motors. The market for motors is a multinational segment and in fact in markets like India, it may well be a regional market. Our global business model is to partner with competent Tier 1s and OEMs who want to make their own motors, for instance Omega Seiki. We are also in talks with 2 more players

Will the Tier 1 partnerships in India also enable export?
There is significant potential. In some cases where OEMs will want to buy from India Tier 1s in relatively large amounts, we will support. Then there will be leads that we get where and can get the motors manufactured through India-based Tier-1s. We are also setting up a small scale manufacturing/assembly facility in Israel for customers in slightly less price-sensitive markets like Europe and US who want small amounts of motors. India is one of the most attractive areas in terms of manufacturing costs and technology competency. I don’t think we can find such technical competence at such  competitive pricing  anywhere else. 

How would you ensure that your Tier 1 partners do not compete with each other?
We are definitely looking at differentiation. We do want large coverage in a fragmented market. Our motor topology in general is very generic but we can design a wide variety of motors around that topology. The first motor we designed is a 17 kW peak power motor of 9kg, which is way too powerful for most two-wheelers. In fact, it is stronger than we intended. It is now mostly for three-wheelers, or LCVs and maybe for some high-end two-wheelers. We recently made a prototype of a smaller motor — a 6.5kg motor which is perfect for the newer end of electric two-wheeler.

Are you targeting the premium electric two-wheeler segment?
Yes, we are. Hub motors is going to be great disappointment for this segment as there is limit to how much punishment you can give on the hub motors on any road, leave aside India’s driving conditions are. Having said that, there is a significant trend globally and more so in India to try to get rid of neodymium magnets which use rare earth materials. There are two reasons for that: they are expensive and are all controlled by China. There are several ways to eliminate neodymium magnets which are large and heavy, and not very appropriate for two-wheelers. We have gone for ferrite magnets which are weaker than neodymium magnets but are cheaper and require larger motors.

For instance, the same 17 kW motor in neodymium comes out as 6 kW in ferrite which is not bad given the compact size. This is where we can deliver ferrite instead of neodymium, which is of interest to many users in India.  You have neodymium-free motors that are still about the size and weight of regular flux motor but much cheaper and the motors don’t rely on import (from China) of key raw material. This is the second sub-market we are targeting in India. The premium market will go with neodymium, the middle-segment with ferrite and the lower-segment with hub motor. The trade-off is that one loses a few  percentage points in efficiency and goes up in size and weight. 

When will the motor be ready for the other segments?
The motor for LCVs should be ready in a few months. We are taking the same inside of the 17 kW motor and doing a water-cooled version, which will be running at around 30-35 kW at 48-volts. There is a wide  variety in Indian LCV offerings, and by end-2022 we will be demonstrating more than just water-cooled 100 kW motor for mainstream high-end automobiles in European and Asian markets.

What is the USP of EVR Motors?
EVR has succeeded in developing a breakthrough architectural radial flux motor with a different topology. We call it the Trapezoidal Stator Radial Flux (TSRF) motor, which can be adapted for a wide range of vehicles. There is a different shape of the stator which allows us to get much higher flux from the motor. It enables us to put on specially formed coils which has significantly higher fill factor. The topology also allows us to achieve significantly better cooling. These three reasons have enabled us to make motors that produces twice the power compared to a similar sized motor. But that is not just what the customers are looking for. They are talking about kilowatts, and we are able to give the motor in half the size and weight compared to  competition. That is really breakthrough. The size and weight of powertrain is paramount in the EV domain. 

Also read: Omega Seiki partners Israel’s EVR Motors to manufacture EV motors