Founder and CTO, Yasa
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
My grandfather’s stories inspired a passion for technology in me. His name was Sir Bob Feilden. He was part of Frank Whittle’s legendary team that invented the jet engine during WWII. I have always wanted to understand how and why things move in certain ways. A few weeks into my doctorate program I had a “eureka moment,” realizing there was a much better way to build an electric machine if you removed the motor's stator yoke and split it into segments. This resulted in a massive reduction of the motor's weight – while at the same time improving torque, power density, efficiency and manufacturability, making it transformative for vehicle electrification. Once I completed my doctorate in 2009, I founded Yasa to develop and commercialize this new approach to the axial flux motor.
Your greatest achievement?
Just a few short years after founding the company, Ferrari wanted to utilize one of our electric motors in their cars. To reach series production was a great highlight. Then, in 2021, Mercedes-Benz decided to acquire our technology. I’m very proud to know Mercedes will take our unique axial flux electric motors and controllers into mass production at their Berlin factory. Over the last decade we have secured more than 120 patents, which is a great reward from all that effort during my student days.
Born: Oxford, England
Education: Doctorate and master’s degree in electrical engineering, University of Oxford, Oxford, England
What is your current challenge at work?
When we first started to commercially produce the motors, the robots required to manufacture them did not exist. We needed to build the machines that build the machine. It has also been a challenge convincing automotive companies to take the first leap. The automotive sector is well-known for being a fast follower, so through third-party automaker projects we were able to demonstrate the scalability and reliability of the product in order to achieve series production. Along the way, we have been able to show the promise of Yasa as part of several speed records, including the sub-1,000 kg land speed record with Drayson Racing and the all-electric flight speed record with the Rolls Royce Spirit of Innovation plane that achieved more than 345 mph.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Too many to list! Significant technical challenges have always been overcome, demonstrating how important persistence and resilience are.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don’t let anyone tell you something can’t be done.
2009 to present: Founder and chief technology officer, Yasa Motors, Oxford, England
2019–2021: Yasa’s motors help the all-electric Rolls-Royce Spirit of Innovation set two world records
2017–2019: Ferrari’s first plug-in hybrid, the SF90 Stradale, includes 3 Yasa motors
2015–2017: Yasa’s motors are used in racecars that achieve an overall win and the first sub-9-minute run from an electric car at the Pikes Peak Hillclimb
2012–2015: Yasa motors are used by Drayson Racing to power a converted Lola Le Mans Prototype to a sub-1,000 kg electric vehicle land speed record
2010–2012: Yasa’s motors help power the Jaguar C-X75 concept that debuted in 2010 Paris auto show and was featured in the James Bond film “Spectre”
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
Go electric because software, electronics and e-motors will dominate the industry from now on.
What do you do to relax?
I read novels, participate in sports and spend time with my family.
What is your dream location to live?
What is your favorite driving song?
It is “Virtua Insanity” by Jamiroquai.
What was your first car?
A Honda Civic.
A Nissan Leaf.