ELECTRIC VEHICLE INNOVATION
EV INNOVATORS SINCE 1994

UNRIVALED EV DEVELOPMENT

FOR MOTORSPORT
AND ROAD CARS

Zytek has been deeply involved in electric vehicle innovation, research and development since 1994, and is proud of a number of EV motorsport firsts:

  • First electric sports car vehicle with torque vectoring drive system at SAE.
  • First Daimler Smart production electric vehicle.
  • First 6 in 1 drive system to reduce EV powertrain mass and complexity.

First 6-in-1 Drive System

When Gordon Murray Design was looking to create a new concept for urban mobility, he needed a partner with whom to work in the design of a new, lightweight electric drive system.  Zytek was nominated to create a suitable lightweight drive system. 

The resulting system was 39kg, encompassing a traction machine, inverter, charger, DCDC converter, HV power distribution unit, and the vehicle control unit – a 6 in 1 system that is being discussed so frequently today (but not yet in production). 

The concept was presented to the public in 2011 and was the basis for many subsequent successful, lightweight electric vehicle projects.

Zytek EV Beginnings

Up until 1994, Zytek was exclusively a motorsport company. 

During a business trip to Japan, engineers were taken aback by levels of urban pollution in the most densely-packed areas of the cities. Generated mostly by the very high levels of traffic pollution, the decision was taken to find a solution – this solution was electrification. 

In terms of innovation, this was the perfect platform on which to generate a new means of transportation propulsion as nothing existed that could be packaged within the tightest of confines, an engine bay of an urban vehicle.

Zytek Prototypes

Lotus Elise Electric Sports Car

Following a number of internal demonstrator projects, it was decided to develop an electric sports car based on the Lotus Elise. As a lightweight, aluminium vehicle platform, it was ideal in many respects, but as one of the smallest vehicles on sale at the time, certainly posed a challenge for the packaging of the necessary high voltage battery technology. 

The drive system was designed to be fully torque vectoring with individual motors driving each rear wheel via a simple offset reduction gearbox. The inverters for the electric machines were housed together in a large flat chassis enclosure, with 3 phase flying leads for the electric machines. The battery technology used was initially NiCd, with a second demonstrator created using the new (for the time) NiMH chemistry. 

With a modified dashboard (with a rev-counter now reading motor speed) and the redundant gear shift lever removed, the vehicle looked like it had just left the factory. 

When shown at the SAE World Congress and Exhibition in 1998 in Detroit, this vehicle was nominated as one of the ten most exciting technologies at that year’s event.

See Lotus EV Case Study.


Daimler Smart Platform

Zytek has had a long history of working on the Daimler Smart platform. 

When the platform first entered production, it utilised a range of internal combustion engines. However, Zytek proposed to Daimler to complete the development of the electric drive system and to present the results back to Daimler at the right time. 

After 5 iterations of drive and battery systems, the results were accepted for use in a trial on public roads with customers throughout the UK. 

After 100 vehicles had been converted using Zytek’s Lichfield facility, plans for a second, much larger, worldwide trial phase was agreed, culminating in 2,500 electric vehicles produced at the Smart manufacturing facility in Hambach.

The production run of drive systems were produced by Zytek in the UK on a dedicated, customised manufacturing line, and shipped into France on a weekly basis. 

All of this demonstrated Zytek’s capability not only to research, develop and innovate, but to take this onwards and create production-quality systems, integrated into a whole vehicle environment.

See Daimler Smart Case Study.

RELATED INNOVATION

Digital Engine Management

Since 1981 we have been innovating auto electronics, with an unrivalled history of digital engine management development and deployment in the highest tiers of motorsport.

Vehicle Electrification

Helping you at all stages of the vehicle electrification process, from initial design and modelling, to manufacturing and assembly, to testing at our in-house facilities and track.

Hybrid Motorsport

We have an unrivalled history with the development of hybrid technology in motorsport, such as the first hybrid system to win its class in IMSA endurance racing.

Hybrid Road Vehicles

We have a rich history with the development of hybrid road cars, such as the first hybrid vehicle to be developed for production outside Japan.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

From the electric single-seater sports car with individual wheel motors (developed over 20 years before the first season of Formula E) to the latest generation of pure electric sports cars to the Daimler Smart platform.

We have a rich history of creating high-performance concepts, see Our History.

We offer many areas of specialist design to bring your EV project to life, including 

Yes, advanced materials can be used throughout the drivetrain, derived from aerospace and other industries. 

In motorsport the emphasis is more towards lightweight and efficiency, whereas in road car units, cost has a much higher importance.

The balance of product cost (and the impact of material choice vs efficiency and cost) can always be simulated and discussed with customers enabling data-driven decisions to be made regarding product design.

Yes, using our fully equipped workshop facilities our highly experienced team will fully build your prototype vehicle.

Yes, bought in laminations are cut to profiles simulated in our design tools. We wind stators and assemble rotors in house, and complete the assembly process with a range of low-speed measurement tests to ensure quality and performance targets are met.

Yes, bare PCBs are bought in, then our expert internal resources are used to produce finished components.

WORK WITH US