Former Ford VP Peter Fleet joins north-east based EV motor start-up AEM

Advanced Electric Machines (AEM) has appointed former Ford Group Vice President and President of Ford Asia Pacific, Peter Fleet, as non-executive Chairman.

The appointment of Peter Fleet to the Washington, Tyne & Wear-based start-up comes as AEM enters an important phase of its scale-up strategy.

Peter Fleet enjoyed a 30 year international career at Ford, most recently serving as a Group Vice President and President of Asia Pacific, where he was responsible for all of Ford’s operations across Greater China, India, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Peter had previously served as Vice President Sales for Ford of Europe where he established Transit as the best-selling commercial vehicle brand in Europe.

AEM’s unique and patented technology means that its motors are able to offer all of the performance and efficiency benefits of a more conventional permanent magnet motor, without the considerable environmental drawbacks. Unlike today’s electric vehicle motors, AEM’s products are completely free of rare earth magnets, which negates the need for mining of materials such as neodymium and dysprosium that have significant environmental drawbacks.

Independent research shows that every tonne of rare earth material mined produces up to 1.4 tonnes of radioactive waste, 200m3 of acid-containing sewage water, 60,000m3 waste gas containing hydrochloric acid and 27.6 tonnes of CO2. Based on a global car production of 97 million vehicles, AEM’s technology could save the production of 133 million tonnes CO2 per year as well as 300,000 tonnes of radioactive waste.

Rare earth metals also appear at the top of most nation’s lists of critical materials, those where there is long term concern for security of supply. As a result of this uncertainty, the price of neodymium, which is commonly used in permanent magnet electric motors, has increased by more than 240% between March 2020 and March 2021, meaning that they are financially unsustainable as well as environmentally problematic.

As well as rare earth metals, all other traction motors also use copper windings. At end of life, the copper must be removed from the motor before recycling, making the process difficult and expensive. AEM technologies can be produced using only steel and aluminium, meaning that it can be recycled quickly, cost-effectively and completely.

Peter Fleet, Chairman of AEM, said: “I am delighted to join AEM, a fast-growing company in one of the fastest-growing industries! Electric motors are at the heart of the electric vehicle revolution and AEM’s patented electric motor technologies are truly game-changing. With more power from less weight, AEM produces class-leading electric motors that don’t cost the earth.”

James Widmer, CEO of AEM, said: “Peter brings an exceptional level of knowledge and experience of the global automotive industry, and we’re delighted to welcome him into our leadership team. His presence bolsters our already exceptional team of engineering, manufacturing and financial experts, and will be crucial to the successful execution of our scale-up strategy.”

Working closely with world class organisations in the UK, US and Europe to bring next generation technologies into production, AEM has global ambitions. It already has manufacturing facilities that are able to produce more than 12,000 motors per year to meet near-term demand, while the roll out of its global expansion plan will meet longer-term customer requirements. 

About AEM

Based in Washington, North East England, AEM was founded in 2017, when it was spun out from Newcastle University’s world-class electric motor research team, led by AEM’s CEO, James Widmer, and CTO, Andy Steven.

AEM’s vision is to design and build the world’s most sustainable EV motors to the global automotive and transport sectors, from its UK facilities. It utilises its expertise in materials, manufacturing and design to ensure its solutions are more sustainable, efficient and cost-effective.

Since 2018, over £25m of investment has been committed to the development of AEM technologies through a combination of government grants, and equity investment. It has registered several international patents on its proprietary technology since 2016.

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