The University of Auckland

Project #3: Development of a Light-Weight Motor Driver for Formula SAE Electric Vehicles



University of Auckland Formula: SAE Team is a club where students design and build an electric race car every year to compete with teams from other universities. For the drivetrain in the electric vehicle (EV) class, teams can choose to either buy off-the-shelf motors and drivers or build custom ones that better suits their requirements. Although off-the-shelf motor drivers are easy to use, these designs employ traditional power converter and semiconductor device technologies. As a result, they tend to have poor efficiencies, bulky thermal management systems and sluggish controllers. 

The aim of this project is therefore to investigate new power converter technologies, wide-bandgap semiconductor devices, improved circuit design and thermal management techniques that would help developing a high-performance light-weight motor driver for Formula SAE Electric Vehicles. After conducting a detailed literature survey, suitable technologies will be identified and analysed using simulation models to develop a design for an improved 30 kW motor driver. Due to time and resource constraints, a scaled prototype that operates with a suitable high-voltage DC-link will be built, and its performance will be tested to validate the viability of the proposed motor driver design.


●     An investigation into existing motor controllers suitable for Formula SAE electric vehicles

●     An investigation into existing motor drivers, motor controllers, thermal management and semiconductor device technologies 

●     Propose an improved motor driver design that combines emerging technologies

●     Simulation of the proposed solution

●     Development of a functional prototype

●     Validation of the simulation results

●     Identification of future improvements










Lab allocations have not been finalised