Q&A: New YASA CEO, Juergen Banken

3 mins read

After his appointment as the new CEO of Oxford-based motor manufacturer, YASA, MM speaks with Juergen Banken about the company's future after its acquisition by Mercedes-Benz.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself?

Following a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Aachen University and Brunel University London, I’ve had a 26-year career with Mercedes-Benz AG, holding leadership roles in various Mercedes-Benz Electric Drive development programmes over the last 15 years. In 2016, I took over responsibility for the company’s electric propulsion systems, including taking the EQS from concept to delivery of its Electric Drive Unit. 

Now, in my new role as CEO, I’ve moved from Stuttgart to Oxford where the YASA HQ is based. My role is to lead YASA’s incredible innovation around its novel axial-flux electric motor technology, deliver world-beating electric-drive solutions for AMG-Mercedes’ electric only platform and ensure that YASA helps drive innovation back into Mercedes-Benz.

  • What does the YASA acquisition mean for Mercedes-Benz?  

Even with the differences in history and size of YASA and Mercedes-Benz, it was apparent from the initial development projects before the acquisition, that both teams shared the same commitment to engineering excellence, innovation and reshaping mobility for the electric age. 

Since last year's acquisition, we’ve found that commonality tremendously helpful in integrating the YASA and Mercedes-Benz teams.

The acquisition of YASA gives Mercedes-Benz a technological edge, with a proven, radically new, powerful and compact electric vehicle motor, to combine with our existing global scale and reach. This combination of cutting-edge innovation and world-class manufacturing is going to reset the bar for electric driving experiences — something I personally am very excited about.

SEE ALSO: Former YASA CEO to head up electric aerospace spin-off
  • What are the current challenges with electric motors and how will the industry overcome these? 

EV buyers right now tend to focus on range as an issue because the headline performance of radial flux motors is very impressive. However, this hides the fact that radial flux motors are reaching maturity with limited scope for further improvement as demands for performance from EVs grow. With this next generation of YASA powered vehicles, people choosing a Mercedes-Benz will know that there has been no compromise in motor weight, size, or energy use to achieve the best performance. It’s going to be transformative for the industry. As the EV market matures, consumer expectations will continue to grow and we are excited about exceeding those expectations.

  • Tell us about the technology and how this will redefine the way we design and build EVs. 

YASA’s axial-flux electric motor technology is a step-change from existing radial technology found in all current EV’s. The core design advantage of our axial-flux motor is that the spinning rotor has a larger diameter because it turns alongside the stator, rather than inside it. This larger diameter improves torque, whilst the motor topology also means you can get significantly more heat out of the system through oil cooling. This in turn means you can push them harder more often without any degradation in performance.

The YASA motor topology also removes the stator yoke, which reduces the stator iron mass by up to 80%. This innovation reduces overall motor size and weight (typically around 50% less) providing a significant power density advantage over the equivalent radial motor.

  • How well-placed is the UK to lead the global EV/electric motor market? 

As we know, legislators have identified a clear end-date for the internal combustion engine. The UK government has set out its plans to accelerate the uptake of EVs to 23.2million by 2032 (55% of all vehicles)[1]

The UK is well placed to deliver on these ambitious targets. The YASA team primarily operates from our HQ and series production facility in Oxfordshire which is at the heart of the UK’s historic automotive and engineering corridor. This will soon be complemented by the mass production of the YASA motor starting at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Berlin.

Earlier this year, we also opened YASA’s new flagship control system and testing, research and development centre in Welshpool, Wales. We have been in Welshpool since 2016, and our continued investment in U.K. engineering talent is great for Mercedes-Benz and great for the UK’s leadership position in the global EV market.

  • What does the future of electric motoring look like?

I think OEMs in general recognise that having long-term differentiation in electric motor technology is key. That’s why choosing electric powertrain solutions with future potential is so vital and why Mercedes-Benz acquired YASA last year. 

Our production ready axial-flux technology for EVs has a long-term roadmap to deliver even greater performance — something that’s very important when looking towards the future of the EV market. Our goal at YASA is to provide the world’s best electric motor technology not just for now but for years to come.


[1] https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/The-UKs-transition-to-electric-vehicles.pdf