Evolito plans to add a hybrid-electric option to its existing suite of battery-power solutions as the electric propulsion specialist grows its portfolio under the direction of newly appointed chief technology officer Marc Holme.

Holme joined the UK-headquartered business – a spin-off from automotive motor maker Yasa Motors – in December last year from Collins Aerospace, where he was senior director of engineering, specialising in electric propulsion.

Concept eVTOL

Source: Evolito

Electric motor maker is working on several eVTOL platforms

His most recent project was a high-profile effort to hybridise a Dash 8-100, working in conjunction with sister RTX company Pratt & Whitney Canada and aircraft manufacturer De Havilland Canada, among others; Collins is supplying electric motors to the initiative.

Since taking up the post at Evolito Holme has been “working hard to solidify the product roadmaps” across its “end-to-end powertrain”, including motors, battery systems, and motor controller units.

“It’s a good opportunity to look at the end-to-end powertrain and how we can grow the wider system offerings and capabilities that we can leverage from having that knowledge of the power source right through to the propulsor,” he says.

While he maintains there is “nothing missing fundamentally” from the product line-up and capabilities, “as we look ahead beyond pure electric… I think where we are really going to end up focusing is towards hybrid powertrain architectures and approaches”.

Holme says there is increasing demand from vehicle developers for hybrid-electric powertrains to overcome the range limitations of pure battery power.

“It’s adding a capability really to [address] a bigger market opportunity,” he says.

While Evolito’s electric motors can also work as generators, discussions have already begun with several engine manufacturers, exploring the opportunities for series or parallel hybrid systems.

However, the thermal engines would likely need to be compatible with sustainable aviation fuel or “ultimately” capable of running on hydrogen, says Holme.

“Having that kind of thermal engine roadmap as well will help to create this fully sustainable powertrain architecture,” he says.

Marc Holme-c-Evolito

Source: Evolito

Electrification speciailist Holme joined from Collins Aerospace

Holme says he sees “key opportunities” for a hybrid-electric system emerging in around two to three years and Evolito intends to have a product ready in that timeframe.

In the meantime, the company is looking forward to the award of Production Organisation Approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority – expected in “the latter part of the year” – following its achieving Design Organisation Approval status in December 2023.

Work also continues on its core range of axial-flux electric motors, as Evolito eyes service entry for its first serial product in around 2026.

Those motors will be certificated as part of the overall vehicle, but the company will also seek standalone type approval for the motors, a milestone also expected around 2026.

No details of the first vehicle to use Evolito’s motors have been disclosed, but Holme says it is for a vertical take-off and landing application.

Evolito says it is working with a number of OEMs, “developing motors and propulsion systems for a variety of eVTOL, urban air mobility and fixed-wing applications”; it expects several customer test flights later this year. That will likely include the maiden sortie of its motors aboard a Britten-Norman BN2 Islander being modified to run on hydrogen fuel cells by Cranfield Aerospace Solutions.

Besides a focus on the hardware, Holme also hopes he can add something else to the team. “There is a lot around helping the engineering team in terms of bringing some of my 24 years of aerospace experience.

“We have got a great mix of people: quite a few with an aerospace background but we have also brought a lot in from the automotive and industrial sectors, so it’s really helping to stabilise design processes and standards and give people a good framework to work with going forward.”

Holme says he was attracted by the role at Evolito for two reasons: the opportunity to see the axial-flux technology “and to help evolve that” and to also “help shape the organisation” and to “help them succeed in the aerospace world”.

Dr Chris Harris, Evolito chief executive and co-founder, adds: “I’m extremely proud of what we have created here, and our success is a reflection of our hugely talented and dedicated team, driven by a common passion for sustainable mobility.

“The electrification of flight is one of the most exciting market opportunities of our time, and Evolito’s innovative new technology and ability to scale means we are well positioned to meet this fast-emerging demand.”

Project Fresson motor-c-CAeS

Source: Cranfield Aerospace Solutions

An Evolito motor equips hydrogen-electric Islander conversion