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Tech Info - Small Vehicle Drive Motors

MY1016 250W 24V Unite Scooter MotorIn the vehicle and flight sim projects shown on the site I've generally found the use of DC permanent magnet motors to be least expensive and most satisfactory option – these are not the only type of DC motor that can be used in small karts and EV's but generally they are easy for the DIY-er to get a hold of, are relatively efficient, physically compact and many can be used for reversing and dynamic braking applications.

I've tried a range of types from DC hydraulic pump motors to wheel chair motors but have settled now mainly on imported Chinese built DC PM motors intended for electric scooter and trike spares.  Besides being designed for traction duty on small vehicles these motors are considerably less expensive than similar powered European or US built motors. Some of the smaller 250W units can be picked up on Ebay for a few pounds/dollars - which considerably reduces anxieties about accidental overloads causing them to burn out.

1000W 36V DC PM MotorThey are relatively efficient (75 - 85%), especially some of the larger power units, they can be driven in both forward and reverse at variable speeds and come with a radial load bearing output shaft and usually with a roller chain drive sprocket ready to be mounted on your transmission. This is an attractive package for the DIY vehicle builder. For the designer it is also possible to obtain technical performance data for the motors directly from the manufacturer's web site - try here (connection to this site can be unreliable), or here as an alternative supplier for some models. Powers available range from 250W up to 1200W per motor for 24V, 36V and even 48V DC supplies. Most of the motors I've used from this range have rated speeds between 2500 and 3000 rpm and as such are not suitable for direct connection on to drive wheels - this has to be done with at least one (possibly two) speed reduction stage(s) to bring the speed down and the torque up to that required at the wheel. However a number of these motors are available with built-on gearheads and these versions are an attractive alternative to a DIY speed reduction build.

Mounting method depends on the motor, as you can see some have mounting feet attached, the larger motors (above right) can be front or rear face mounted or conveniently can be secured to a support using large diameter hose (jubilee) clips, see left. This by far is the easiest way to secure them - check out the plumbing/central heating section at your local DIY store for large hose clips. 

Motor secured with hose clipsIt is worth mentioning that all these motors will generate heat as a natural by-product of their operation and will heat up in use, especially when run hard. Surface temperatures can easily become too hot to touch comfortably and care should be taken. In particular they should be mounted where a cooling flow or air can be provided - it is best not to fully enclose them although it is wise to provide some form of weather protection for types with end face ventilation holes.

The motors shown are from the MY1016 and MY1020 families of electric motors made by Unite Motor Co. in China and widely imported for electric scooter and trike spares. Check the suppliers page for some sources of these motors.

200W 24V DC Motor with GearheadElectric motors with integral gear heads are also available and can simplify the transmission design in some projects. On the DIY motion Cockpits I've used 24V 200W Unite motors with worm gear boxes to provide some degree of load-holding when the power is removed. These give a compact high speed reduction design that can be very useful. Motors with worm gearing can have fairly large reduction ratios and generally the bigger the reduction the more  the tendency for the gearbox to resist back driving from its output shaft. In vehicle applications this can be a problem if you are looking for the motors and electrical drive to give smooth braking response. Other gear head motors will use other gear types, eg single or double straight spur gear reductions and these will tend to have a lesser speed reduction but are more capable of being back driven and may be a better choice for dynamic/regenerative braking in electric vehicles.


Geared DC PM Motor
Unite MY1020 Geared 750W Motor Unite MY68 100W motors


For a UK / European supplier of Unite Scooter motors try - ....


For a US Supplier try - TNC Scooters ......


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