High power density, high efficiency, and inexpensive drivetrains operating over wide speed and torque ranges are critical for electric vehicles (EVs). The induction machine (IM) offers a cost-effective and reliable alternative to permanent magnet-based solutions. A fixed pole IM's high torque requirement at low speed sacrifices its performance at partial loads and high speeds. A variable-pole IM has an additional degree of freedom which is the pole count. This paper uses a variable pole count to improve IM performance over a wide torque and speed range. An approach to select the best pole configuration for a given operation strategy is presented. For illustration, a maximum torque per ampere (MTPA) strategy is used on a 36-slot toroidally wound IM. Variable-pole operation increases the torque capability of the machine and enlarges its high efficiency region to a wide speed range. The analytical results provide guidelines for designing and operating a variable-pole machine tailored for this application.