UK-based startup Advanced Electric Machines (AEM) has successfully secured £23 million ($29 million) in Series A funding to accelerate the production of its innovative electric vehicle (EV) motors that are entirely free of rare earth materials and copper, making them fully recyclable.
The funding round was led by Legal & General Capital and Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital, demonstrating a growing interest in climate-focused startups.
Headquartered in Washington, England, AEM has already deployed rare earth-free motors in electric buses and vehicles across Europe, North America, and Asia.
CEO James Widmer noted that this investment will pave the way for AEM to develop EV motors devoid of copper for both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, potentially increasing an EV’s range by a minimum of 10%.
While AEM is collaborating with Volkswagen’s luxury brand, Bentley, on an EV motor project, Widmer couldn’t disclose details about other potential clients.
However, he affirmed that the company is actively engaging with automakers in Europe and beyond to explore partnerships and opportunities.
The move toward rare earth-free EV motors has gained momentum as European, U.S., and Japanese automakers seek alternatives to reduce reliance on China, which dominates rare earth mining and processing.
Typically, EV motors with rare earth permanent magnets contain approximately 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of copper, whereas rare earth-free alternatives can contain double that amount.
One distinctive advantage of AEM’s motors is their recyclability. Copper, due to its high melting point similar to steel, poses challenges in recycling.
In contrast, AEM’s motors, made primarily of aluminum and steel, can be efficiently recycled by melting them in a furnace.
This eco-friendly approach aligns with AEM’s strong commitment to sustainability, which has attracted significant investment interest.
CEO James Widmer emphasized, “We are big on sustainability, and that’s the reason we’ve been able to convince some really exciting investors to put money into the business.”
This infusion of funds positions AEM to play a pivotal role in the advancement of environmentally friendly electric vehicle technology, catering to the increasing demand for sustainable transportation solutions.