UK start-up secures £23 million in funding for rare earth and copper-free sustainable EV motor

  • UK startup AEM secures £23 million for rare earth and copper-free sustainable EV motor.
  • Funding led by Legal & General Capital and Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital.
  • AEM’s rare earth-free motors in electric buses, new funds advance copper-free EV motor tech, addressing sustainability and reducing material waste.

AEM celebrates funding injection for sustainable EV motor innovations

Advanced Electric Machines (AEM), a UK-based startup, has successfully secured £23 million in Series A funding. Spearheading this financial infusion are Legal & General Capital and Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital initiative. The funding injection will propel the production of AEM’s electric vehicle (EV) motors. These are distinguished by their environmental sustainability—devoid of both rare earths and copper.

AEM is based in Washington, in England’s northeast. The start-up has already demonstrated its technological prowess with a commercially viable rare earth-free motor. This is in use in electric buses across Europe, North America, and Asia. 

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The recent capital injection is strategically directed toward advancing the development of EV motors without copper, catering to both passenger vehicles and commercial fleets. Remarkably, these copper-free innovations hold the potential to augment an EV’s range by a noteworthy 10%.

AEM has attracted collaboration from Bentley for the development of an EV motor. However, details regarding additional clientele remain undisclosed.

The global race to produce an EV motor with minimal reliance on rare earth elements has intensified. European, US and Japanese automakers are actively seeking alternatives to mitigate dependence on China’s dominance in rare earth mining. AEM’s motors, eschewing rare earths but incorporating a twofold increase in copper-free composition, positions the company as a noteworthy contender in this competitive landscape.

Prof. James Widmer, CEO and co-founder of Advanced Electric Machines, said: 

“Today’s funding announcement clears our path to sustainable growth for years to come. It is a vote of confidence from the market in our vision, our technical capabilities and our mission to rid EV motors of harmful and problematic materials. Everyone at AEM and our new partners are excited for the role we are now able to play in making the electric vehicle sector truly sustainable.” 

A standard EV motor contains up to 10kg of copper, while many of the rare earth free alternatives contain up to double that. Copper is infamously difficult to recycle. So, in formulating a motor with no copper, and no rare earth materials, AEM will dramatically reduce material waste in the industry.

Steven Poulter, Head of Principal Structuring and Investments, Barclays, said:

“AEM is solving a fundamental constraint of the EV market – the reliance on rare earth metals for motors– which causes significant cost and supply chain challenges. By producing motors that don’t rely on these metals, AEM is able to remove the key barriers to the production and subsequent adoption of EVs. We are excited to be supporting AEM on the next stage of its journey as it expands into passenger vehicles, a growing market critical to the energy transition.”

With this substantial financial backing, AEM is opening the door to more sustainable EV production. The carbon footprint of the vehicle’s entire lifecycle must be considered. With more funding for sustainable manufacturing processes, we could see carbon-neutral, waste-free EVs sooner than we may expect. 

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