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Tesla is upgrading Model S/X with new, more efficient electric motors

Tesla is working on a new electric motor upgrade for Model S and Model X with a more efficient permanent magnet reluctance system based on the motor Tesla developed for Model 3.

As we reported earlier this week, Tesla’s Model S and Model X sales crashed during the first quarter.

We noted that the anticipation of a hardware upgrade and a design refresh for those vehicles might be affecting the current demand.

Last year, we reported that Tesla is planning an interior design refresh for the second half of 2019.

Now, we’ve learned that Tesla is also planning a powertrain upgrade for Model S and Model X.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Tesla started including references to new motors for Model S and Model X in recent software updates.

The new electric motors, codenamed ‘Raven’, are permanent magnet reluctance motors, like the ones found in Model 3.

With Model S and Model X, Tesla has been using AC induction electric motors for years, but the company switched to permanent magnet electric motors when introducing the Model 3 back in 2017.

Tesla’s principal motor designer, Konstantinos Laskaris, explained the logic behind the move in an interview with Charged last year:

“It’s well known that permanent magnet machines have the benefit of pre-excitation from the magnets, and therefore you have some efficiency benefit for that. Induction machines have perfect flux regulation and therefore you can optimize your efficiency. Both make sense for variable-speed drive single-gear transmission as the drive units of the cars.

So, as you know, our Model 3 has a permanent magnet machine now. This is because for the specification of the performance and efficiency, the permanent magnet machine better solved our cost minimization function, and it was optimal for the range and performance target.

Quantitatively, the difference is what drives the future of the machine, and it’s a tradeoff between motor cost, range and battery cost that is determining which technology will be used in the future.”

The more efficient electric motor is contributing to Model 3’s impressive range in a more significant way than some people think.

According to people familiar with the matter, the Model 3 motor can register an efficiency higher than 97% compared to around 93% for Model S and Model X motor.

The average discrepancy is even more significant in stop-and-go traffic where the Model 3 electric motor is much more efficient than Tesla’s AC induction motors.

Upgrading the motors with the existing battery packs could add up to a few dozen additional miles of range to Model S and Model X.

The timing of the electric motor upgrade for Model S and Model X is not exactly clear, but it could happen relatively soon, according to people familiar with the matter.

The upgrade could also come with other hardware upgrades to increase the charge rate of Model S and Model X.

Electrek’s Take

The new specs enabled by the new motors are still unknown, but we expect a decent range and power bump.

As we reported earlier this week, Tesla Model S / X sales crashed significantly during the last quarter.

This hardware upgrade could definitely help sales of the two models. It also comes just before a series of new and competing electric vehicles hit the market, and could help Tesla maintain its competitive edge against vehicles like the Audi e-tron and Porsche Taycan.

We will keep a close eye on this Project Raven and will report back if we get more information. If you know something about Tesla’s new electric motors, you can reach out via the contact info below.

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