In the last few years, the reduction of the dependency on rare-earth magnets has been one of the main concerns for electrical machine manufacturers. Synchronous reluctance machines (SynRMs) and ferrite permanent magnet-assisted synchronous reluctance machines (PMa-SynRMs) are emerging as alternatives to permanent magnet synchronous machines (PMSMs) in several applications. In low-speed high-torque applications, PMSMs with large amounts of rare-earth magnets are commonly employed. Thus, it is of particular interest to replace PMSMs by SynRMs or PMa-SynRMs. This article studies the feasibility of using SynRMs and ferrite PMa-SynRMs for a direct-drive elevator system. The challenge lies in obtaining performance characteristics comparable to those of PMSMs, but without resorting to the use of rare-earth permanent magnets. The main criteria for designing SynRMs and PMa-SynRMs for low-speed high-torque applications are presented. Afterwards, a SynRM and a ferrite PMa-SynRM are designed for 160 rpm 200 Nm rated conditions, and a performance and cost comparison between these machines and a commercial PMSM is conducted.