Case Study

YASA puts the performance in electric motors

The University of Oxford plays a key role in the region in creating spin-out companies.  Many of these spin-outs choose to stay and grow in Oxfordshire and there is now a cadre of leading companies that are at the heart of the region’s innovation ecosystem. One such company is YASA.

YASA was borne out of research undertaken at University of Oxford by its founder, Tim Woolmer during his DPhil, and the company has now grown into an electric motor giant in the making. Part-funded by Advanced Oxford member, Oxford Sciences Innovation, the company has developed, and now manufactures, high performance and highly efficient electric motors and controllers which are ‘pancake’ shaped, rather than the usual ‘sausage’ design. These compact motors produce a large amount of torque without overheating through an innovative technique using oil to move heat away from the engine’s coils.

YASA’s approach allows its electric motors to be used in cars and aeroplanes which require a lot of power, while keeping size and weight to a minimum. It is fitting, then, that they are already used in the Ferrari SF90 Stradale hybrid electric car as well as the all-electric aircraft with which Rolls Royce expects to set a new single seater speed record in 2021.

Plans are already underway for the business to supplement its Oxford plant with a new production facility. The company currently has a production capacity of up to 100,000 electric motors per year, but a major deal with a well-known car maker means it will need to seriously ramp up production in the next two to three years, requiring a new, large volume manufacturing plant.

Committed to an Oxford HQ

Moving forward, production at YASA’s Oxford Industrial Park base is expected to still carry on and the facility will remain the company’s headquarters. This is not just down to the company’s history but because of the area’s highly educated work force, confirms its CEO, Chris Harris.

YASA's CEO, Chris Harris  YASA’s CEO, Chris Harris

“Our most important asset is our people and they’re here in Oxford. They live in the area and so our main base will remain here,” he says.

“Oxford is where our technology was developed, and it gives us proximity to highly talented graduates from the universities. We work very closely with Oxford Brookes to offer students on sandwich courses a year-long placement. The University of Oxford doesn’t have courses with a year in industry and so we offer these students placement roles over the summer holidays.”

It is the highly skilled work force it has already assembled, and access to the new recruits which will allow it to increase its current headcount of 200 by 50% within the next two to three years.

All pictures courtesy of YASA.

About this case study - Powering up the Green Economy: Oxfordshire's role in building a cleaner future

This case study was written following an interview conducted as part of Advanced Oxford’s research study, Powering up the Green Economy: Oxfordshire’s role in building a cleaner future. Advanced Oxford has been examining the enablers and barriers to growth of the low carbon and sustainable goods and services sectors. We are both showcasing innovation being developed across the region, but also looking at the issues which will support or hinder our high growth potential companies. Advanced Oxford would like to thank all of the companies that participated in this project for their time and for providing us with images which illustrate their technology and work. This case study was written by Sean Hargrave, working with Advanced Oxford.

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