Tesla’s Chief Motor Designer, Konstantinos Laskaris speaks to the 3-phase permanent magnet motor technology used in the Model 3.

Most EVs use permanent magnet motors. However, Tesla uses induction motor technology in its Model S and X, as it did in the first-gen Roadster. This has always been something that has generated quite a bit of conversation, especially among engineers and those "in the know." Interestingly, the automaker changed gears for its Model 3, choosing to go with the permanent magnet technology.

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According to ChargedEVs, the main reason Tesla has always relied on the induction motor is that the technology for it was already developed by AC Propulsion. GM's EV1 motor was also based on the same tech, which Tesla actually licensed from the designer for use in the Roadster. However, later the Silicon Valley company completely redesigned the Roadster's motor.

Long Range Tesla Model 3 (single-motor, rear-wheel drive)

Long Range Tesla Model 3 (single-motor, rear-wheel drive)

With all of the history involved, one could only assume that Tesla would continue on the same path with the Model 3, but EPA documents revealed otherwise. Though the automaker is essentially unwilling to provide many specifics about the new motor tech, ChargedEVs had an opportunity to discuss it with Laskaris at a recent exhibition.

We've included the key takeaways from the interview transcript below. To read the entire comments, follow the link at the bottom of the page:

  • The permanent magnet machine for the Model 3 made the most sense due to performance, efficiency, and cost minimization
  • The future of Tesla's motor choices will be determined by working with a target range and efficiency, which may mean a less expensive motor paired with a more expensive battery or vice versa
  • In order to optimize a motor, you need to know exactly what you expect it to do and what its constraints are. Then, computer models can be used to evaluate how it will actually perform.
  • Highly advanced computer simulations using custom algorithms succeed in coming up with the best possible powertrain combinations within the automaker's constraints.
  • In the end, parameters including "performance, energy consumption, body design, quality, and costs" all weigh in to find the best balance between "desires and limitations."
  • The best motor should provide a welcome balance of "high-performance 0-60 constraint" and "the best possible highway efficiency."
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Source: Charged EVs

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