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Brushless Servomotor Drives New Electric Scooter

01 May 2004




The Italian company, Oxygen is currently building Vespa class electric
scooters with brushless servomotors providing the motive power

Many different types of electric vehicles (EVs) are available on the
market today, but few road-going vehicles have made it into the factory
production volumes that bring economies of scale and some financial
stability to what are usually struggling start-up companies. However, one
EV is emerging not just as an alternative for the green community, but
now as a serious competitor among its fossil-fuel driven rivals - the
electric scooter.

Oxygen SpA, based in Padova, Italy, has sold more than 4,000 Vespa class
electric scooters in the past two years, half of that number to Italian
customers and the other half around the world. Around 120 specially
customised 'Lepton' scooters were recently sold to the Milan traffic
patrol department. These vehicles also carry attractive financial
incentives for their owners, including government funded cash rebates on
the purchase price and exemption from road fund tax and inner city
congestion charges.

Battery technology has been central to the success of the EV. A
shareholder and key supplier to Oxygen is Evercel, who supplies the
latter with nickel-zinc (Ni-Zn) battery packs. These have a life of
around 7,500 miles and are almost half the weight of the more traditional
lead acid battery, giving the Lepton scooter a range of between 30 and 35
miles, depending on riding conditions and terrain. Moreover, the
batteries can be recharged in only one hour to 60% of full charge.

Two factors determined the choice of the drive motor: torque and
efficiency. The more constant the torque curve, the better is the
scooter's ability to accelerate and climb inclines at low speed via its
low-weight, gearbox-free belt-driven transmission system. And the more
efficient the drive, the greater will be the range and scooter's ability
to produce more power when it is needed. For this application, Lafert
Servo Motors turned to its standard range of brushless servomotors and
developed a permanent magnet motor, which is capable of producing 1.8kW
at 7,000rpm. The motor produces the necessary high torque at low speed,
with maximum torque occurring at 2,000rpm. A purpose-designed digital
controller with MOSFET output stages regulates the motor speed according
to the rider's requirements.

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