The concept of increasing efficiency of electric cars has brought many new technologies to the table. While most electric cars are considered highly efficient, there is always room for improvement, and a company from Toronto Canada has designed a novel multi-speed gearbox for use on electric cars that intends to improve efficiency while remaining inexpensive and not overly complex. The company is called Inmotive, and they have designed an interesting way to transfer power between gears. The concept is very similar to a bicycle derailleur, however the main difference comes in that, while a bicycle derailleur moves a chain back and forth over gears, the gearbox by Inmotive actually moves the gears underneath the chain. The company’s CEO, Paul Bottero, is an avid cyclist, and helped come up with the idea for the moving gears and stationary chain. Bottero indicates that moving a chain over gears would likely not last long in a vehicle application due to the power transfer. However, Inmotive has a gearbox design that uses a set of gears that are pieced together over a series of wedges, shaped similarly to a segmented pie. The gear pieces move back and forth underneath the chain, changing the diameter of the driven wheel in the gearbox, and therefore, changing the gear ratio of the drive. Bottero states that they have done market analyses of vehicles that operate on electric power, and indicates that many electric vehicle drivetrains could benefit from increased efficiency. The main benefit is that an electric motor could be kept at the optimal RPM while the vehicle is moving, and also the low end torque could be increased. This is especially important for heavier trucks that may need low end torque to carry heavy loads. The technology is still currently being developed by Inmotive, but they have incorporated their gearbox into test vehicles and are optimistic to begin production in the next couple of years.
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