Aiming to Make Fort Worth a Hub of ‘Energy 2.0,’ Electric Motor Maker Launches Production with $17M Funding

With 95 patents issued or pending on its tech, Fort Worth's Linear Labs wants to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., seeing the electrification supply chain as a "national security strategic imperative."

Brad Hunstable launched Linear Labs in 2014 after incubating in the TechFW program. This year his company aims to produce 20,000 electric motors and intelligent drive systems—with twice the torque and half the size and weight of competitors.

Brad Hunstable calls the motor the “heart of an electrification system.” Now, as his company Linear Labs starts producing motors of its own, he’s looking to make Fort Worth the heart of “Energy 2.0” technology in the U.S.

After launching his electric motor systems startup in 2014, Hunstable has now begun bringing its high-efficiency torque motors to market. To help scale the technology to get it in the hands of more customers, the company unveiled its $17 million Series A funding round today.

“Ultimately, our vision is to be the electrification company of the world,” the Linear Labs co-Founder and CEO told Dallas Innovates.

‘Twice the torque at half the size and weight’

Beginning with a focus on OEMs in the light electric vehicle market, the company expects to produce around 20,000 of its motors and intelligent drive systems this year, with plans to ramp that up to about 200,000 over the next few years.

According to Hunstable, the light EV market, which includes things like recreational vehicles, mopeds, drones, and e-bikes, is expected to produce about 125 million units globally by 2025. Already its motors are being used in Austin e-powersports company Volcon’s vehicles. Hunstable added that Linear’s motor, which has 95 patents issued or pending on its technology, is able to produce twice the amount of torque at half the size and weight of competitors in the industry.

“That’s a big deal is an electrification world,” Hunstable said. “Torque is everything. If we operate at higher torque, we operate at a higher efficiency.”

[Photo: Linear Labs}

Bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.

The supply chain crises of the last two years—not to mention geopolitical struggles with China and Russia—have added urgency to the mission of bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.

With its new Series A round—co-led by Fort Worth’s Folsom Point Equity and THRC Investments, with participation from others, including Lowercarbon Capital, Kindred Ventures, and Capital Factory—Linear is planning to bolster its manufacturing capabilities, invest in automation, and build out its team. It also plans to invest in materials it needs, like copper, steel, and aluminum. Hunstable said the new funding brings the company’s total to $32 million.

Over the past year, Linear, which already operated an 11,000 square-foot facility near Fort Worth, has been moving its overseas operations and R&D operations to the city, with the aid of a $68.9 million economic incentive package approved by the City Council in June. As part of the deal, Linear is required to invest $4 million in improvements to its site near the AllianceTexas development and invest $614 million in R&D work. In addition, the company will create a minimum of 1,200 full-time jobs. Currently, Linear has a team of 55 and is hoping to nearly double that number by the end of the year, with a focus on hiring engineering talent.

“We hope we can be a part of the gravity that brings great electrified systems, whether it’s a truck, an autonomous delivery drone, a moped, a pump, or an air conditioner,” Hunstable said. “We want to bring those applicants and application OEMs back to Texas and back into America, to be frank.”

[Photo: Linear Labs}

The hub of ‘Energy 2.0’

From its Fort Worth facilities, Hunstable is looking to make the city the hub of what he calls Energy 2.0, which he describes as the push for smarter, cleaner, and more efficient systems. The Biden Administration is pushing for that itself, with initiatives like incentivizing electric vehicle production and clean energy tax credits. Hunstable sees the Fort Worth region well-poised for this due to the talent pool created in the past by large organizations like Lockheed Martin and Bell, both of which have manufacturing operations in the region. He hopes that Linear’s operations will attract other companies in the industry that could use its motors to move there to be closer to the “core of their systems.”

“It’s a foundational capability of the entire economy, and that’s why this is such a big deal,” Hunstable said.

A ‘national security strategic imperative’

For Hunstable, producing electrification motors and systems from Fort Worth is important for more than planting a flag in the city where Linear incubated through the TechFW program. For one, he points to the supply chain issues that have been seen by many companies throughout the pandemic. But more importantly, he says it should be a “national security strategic imperative,” as motors are the foundation to many applications and the smart systems behind them can be vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.

“As motors become increasingly connected, the focus on getting the more trusted partners in the supply chain is to me is an absolutely necessary,” Hunstable said. We can’t separate trade policy from national security anymore.”

‘The applications are virtually endless’

As it looks to build out its base in the city, Linear has its eyes on larger applications for its technology, including larger vehicles but also things like industrial pumps and HVAC units. Hunstable added that Linear is also targeting high-tech startups working on innovations in the industry.

“Our vision is to go after all of it,” Hunstable said. “We have something that’s fundamentally different in the electrification space. If you had the best electric motor in the world, the applications are virtually endless.”

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