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Vehicle Technologies Office: Electric Drive Systems Research and Development

Vehicle Technologies Office: Electric Drive Systems Research and Development

Electric drive technologies, including the electric motor, inverter, boost converter, and on-board charger, are essential components of hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) propulsion systems. The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) supports research and development (R&D) to reduce the cost and improve the performance of innovative electric drive devices, components, and systems. For a general overview of electric drive vehicles, see the Alternative Fuels Data Center's pages on Hybrid and Plug-in Electric Vehicles.

The Vehicle Technologies Office's Contribution

Reducing the cost of electric drive vehicles is essential for increasing consumer adoption and meeting the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge goal. EV Everywhere is a Clean Energy Grand Challenge to enable plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) that are as affordable and convenient for the American family as gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.

VTO funds research to advance electric drive technologies in two key areas:

VTO funds research on electric drive technologies to:

  • Reduce cost, weight, and volume
  • Improve performance, efficiency, and reliability
  • Develop innovative modular and scalable designs
  • Improve manufacturability and accelerate commercialization

Photo of the Delphi inverterWithin these areas, research efforts focus on:

  • Wide bandgap (WBG) devices for power electronics
  • Advanced motor designs to reduce or eliminate rare earth materials
  • Novel packaging for power electronics and electric motors
  • Improvements in thermal management and reliability
  • Integration of power electronics functions

In addition, VTO is also supporting research on propulsion materials to lower adoption barriers for electric drive technologies that face specific material limitations. More information on these research and development activities can be found in the Annual Merit Review and Annual Progress Reports


VTO works extensively with a number of different organizations. The electric drive technologies subprogram supports a number of unique user facilities at the national laboratories.  Within the Department of Energy, the office collaborates with the Office of Science, ARPA-e (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy), and the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative. Across the federal government, the APEEM subprogram works with:

Much of the subprogram's research is conducted in sync with industry partners through:


As described in the EV Everywhere Blueprint, the major goals of the subprogram are to reduce the cost of electric drive systems by half and decrease their volume by one-third by 2022.

For more information on research into electric drive technologies, please contact Susan Rogers of the Hybrid Electric Systems Team.