Permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) used for driving hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) have the characteristics of high power density, high efficiency, high reliability and good dynamic performance. However, it’s a very complex process for PMSM pulling into synchronization and it is difficult to analyze and calculate the starting and operating performance exactly, which would be very important for HEV application. So based on the requirement of HEV, a 30kw PMSM is studied. The 2D transient electromagnetic fields of this motor were calculated by using an improved finite element method. Starting performance was analyzed, and some parameters such as stator current and time-speed characteristic could be obtained. From the study on performance of machine with different ratio of spacing of damping bar (Lb) / stator pitch (Ls) in solid rotor and different number of damping bars in laminated rotor, that influence of rotor structure on starting process were studied. The calculated results show good agreement with the experimental data. Some reasonable conclusions were obtained, which could provide some help for the design of this kind of PMSM and the application of it in HEV.