Behind The Scenes: Motors

Compact with High Performance

From left: Keigo Sato (Model Ci Custom Product Development Office), Takanori Hayashi (Nidec Corporation)

The Model Ci’s high power in-wheel motor was jointly developed with Nidec Corporation. Nidec is one of the world’s premier motor manufacturers, boasting top market shares in brushless DC motors, including Hard Disk Drive (HDD) spindle motors. Below, is an overview from the engineer who was in charge of motor development alongside Nidec.


What type of motor is the Model Ci equipped with?

The Model Ci runs using brushless DC motors. This type of motor is light weight, small and quiet. Additionally, the Ci’s brushless DC motor is energy saving and boasts a long life.

In the development of Model Ci, keeping the device’s weight down was critical to ensure transportability. In order to deliver a powerful EV with a long range, equipped with a lithium-ion battery which was reduced in size and weight, it was necessary to adopt a brushless motor.

Brushless motors are not often used for mobility devices. Advanced technology and experience was necessary to incorporate them into the Model Ci. Nidec was our partner on integrating the brushless DC motor into the Model Ci. WHILL was able to procure a small, lightweight and high-power motors for the Model Ci through the success of the Model A, and the potential of the Model Ci.


A smarter motor with responsive control

Model Ci motors are equipped with sensors, giving the user responsive control. The motor can read the rotation speed and wheel movements in millimeter increments, it prevents tipping on inclined surfaces and increases user comfort when accelerating and stopping. The high-performance sensors accurately measure the state at the time of driving, and adjust controls, further improving ride comfort.

Additionally, the sensors measure the device’s rotation angle in detail, which could aid in developing autonomous drive and auto-stop features in the future.


Nidec’s powerful rear in-wheel motor: An interview with Hayashi of Nidec

We consulted directly with WHILL numerous times, before working on joint developments with other venture companies. What drew us to the partnership with WHILL was the picture of mobile phone evolution in contrast to the lack of innovation in the mobility devices. Additionally, they empathized with and wanted to help users who were hesitant to leave their homes due perceived and actual limitations of relying on a mobility device. We decided to collaborate on making WHILL’s vision of providing an innovative and fun mobility experience a reality.

Nidec produced the high-performance Model Ci motor, which uses state-of-the-art motor technology, similar to that of electric assisted bicycles. Because WHILL personal EVs directly affect users’ quality of life, I wanted to do business with the utmost integrity.

Collaborating with WHILL was fun. We worked on development together as friends and equals, with a common goal.

Keigo Sato, Model Ci Custom Product Development
Sato graduated from the Bio Robotics Department at Tohoku University, Graduate School of Engineering. Coming from the Toyota Motor Corporation, he joined WHILL in 2015. As Manager of Model Ci Custom Product Development Office, Sato creates product options for WHILL EVs, helping users make their device an extension of themselves.


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