As a next step in the company’s strategy of developing key components for electric vehicles, Nidec announces two new models of its fully integrated automotive traction motor system (E-Axle) and a new short range radar—the first in the world that, with a single antenna, doubles as a proximity sensor for automatic parking systems, obviating the need for separate ultrasonic sensors.
Nidec’s fully integrated 150 kW E-Axle—a traction motor system comprising an electric motor, reduction gear box and inverter—was first announced in April 2018 and has been adopted by GAC NE's super e-car Aion S that will be launched in the Chinese market in May 2019. With the addition of the newly announced 100 kW and 70 kW models, Nidec’s lineup of electric traction motors will now cover the A, B, C-segments, and dual motor 4WD D-segment cars. The 100 kW and 70 kW models weigh in at 54.5 kg and 48 kg respectively.
"With these three models we cover 90 to 95% of the market for passenger vehicles. As far as I know, we are the first company to announce something like this," Dr. Kazuya Hayafune (Chief Engineer and Deputy Executive General Manager of the company’s automotive division) said, speaking at a press meeting at one of the company's R&D centers in Japan.
Nidec's new short range radar and the proprietary antenna.
The new automotive radar announced together with the E-Axle models is a short range radar that uses a uniquely designed and patented antenna with a waffle-iron ridge guide structure that drastically reduces waveguide loss. The main feature of the radar is its capability of switching between two frequency bands, 77 GHz for driving at regular speeds and 79 GHz for driving at lower speeds, to prioritize either range or resolution. This removes the need for ultrasonic sensors that would otherwise be necessary for low-speed short-distance applications like automatic parking, and has benefits that include cost reduction and wider detection angles.
The antenna used by the new radar was originally developed for Nidec’s automotive integrated sensor fusion unit that combines information from a monocular camera and a millimeter wave radar to achieve accurate long-range sensing. In addition to being used in automotive radars, the antenna can also be adapted for use in 5G base stations and connected car applications.
Nidec started out as a manufacturer of small electric motors for appliances and other machines in 1973 in Kyoto, Japan. Initially a company of only four engineers, it has now grown into a global company group employing over 100,000 people in more than 40 countries across the world. Major products designed and manufactured by Nidec include HDD spindle motors, of which the company has captured 85% of the global market share, and electric power steering motors for automobiles. To date, the company has acquired 60 different businesses, and many of its recent acquisitions, such as that of Honda Elesys (now Nidec Elesys) in 2014, have been focused on strengthening its capabilities in the automotive segment. Nidec also recently launched a joint venture with French Groupe PSA to develop, manufacture and sell a separate lineup of automotive electric traction motors.
Nidec's motors, drives, generators and related products are found in a diverse range of applications including computers, smartphones, home appliances, automobiles, manufacturing plants, robots and more.