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SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid front three-quarter

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid front

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid rear

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid rear 3/4

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid front 3/4

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid in-wheel motor

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid in-wheel motor

  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid
  • SAE World Congress 2012: Protean Brabus Hybrid engine

Protean is back at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress at Cobo Hall this year with a new car showcasing the company's in-wheel motors: a modified Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The car was first seen in Frankfurt last year, and is making its North American debut this week in Detroit.

Protean's principal applications engineer, Tom Prucha, told AutoblogGreen the hybrid uses two in-wheel motors – one in each of the rear wheels – in what Prucha calls a through-the-axle hybrid setup. Both the 2.2-liter diesel engine under the hood and the in-wheel motors power the rear wheels, with the system deciding which powertrain to use at any given moment. The two in-wheel motors add over 200 horsepower and give the car an 0-62 acceleration time of 7.4 seconds while boosting fuel economy by up to 30 percent thanks in part to a 15-kWh lithium-ion battery.

Each in-wheel motor contains more than just the motors: brakes for regen and, unlike some competitors' in-wheel motors, an inverter. Now, putting all of that extra stuff into a wheel adds a lot of unsprung mass, which is usually considered a bad thing. As Ken Stewart, vice president of business development at Protean Electric, says in the video below, the amount of weight that the in-wheel motors add can be tuned out by adjusting other dynamic elements, like mounts, springs and struts. Prucha, too, said that dealing with unsprung mass has a lot to do with the overall weight ratio, not just that it exists. Plus, putting the unsprung mass into the wheels that aren't driving the vehicle helps. Companies that used to scoff at the idea of in-wheel motors are now coming around, Prucha said, adding that in-wheel motors are a question of when, not if.

Even if the negative issues are dealt with, the fact remains that in-wheel motors are not cheap. Prucha said the two in-wheel motors add around $50,000 to the $100,000 cost of a Brabus E-Class. Protean also made an all-electric E-Class, using four in-wheel motors, which would cost over $200,000. Still, that's the model that Brabus is potentially interested in selling, since some customers have expressed interest in buying such a car.

You can watch a video about Protean's motors right below. We rode in the prototype Ford F-150 fitted with in-wheel motors at last year's SAE World Congress and gotta admit, the E-Class looks like a lot more fun.

UPDATE: Prucha clarified to AutoblogGreen that the target price for the in-wheel motors, once production is ramped up in 18 months or two years, is $1,500 to $1,800 apiece. The prices quoted above are speculation about possible prices if Brabus would use the prototype motors.



Show full PR text
BRABUS Hybrid Sedan Powered by Protean In-Wheel Motors Debuts in Detroit

DETROIT, April 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Protean Electric, the global leader in electric in-wheel motors, will showcase its award-winning Protean Drive™ system in a BRABUS Hybrid at the SAE 2012 World Congress April 24-26 at Cobo Center. The event will mark the BRABUS Hybrid's premier North American appearance.

In addition, Protean will host a press conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Booth#801. Protean Electric Chairman and CEO Bob Purcell will unveil the BRABUS Hybrid and announce several new global partners that will accelerate its in-wheel electric drive systems to market in high-volume production.

BRABUS, the highly acclaimed independent automobile tuner, chose Protean's electric in-wheel motors to power its "Technology Project Hybrid" based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The BRABUS Hybrid vehicle is equipped with two Protean Drive™ wheel motors, which power the rear wheels, along with the vehicle's clean diesel engine.

Protean Drive™ is the most advanced in-wheel electric drive system for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Going well beyond performance, Protean Drive™ can improve fuel economy by up to 30 percent in a plug-in hybrid application.

Each Protean motor adds 80 kW (110 hp) and 800 Nm (590 ft-lbs) of peak torque, which, when combined with the 2.2-liter common-rail turbo-diesel engine, give the BRABUS Hybrid an acceleration of 0-100 km/hr (0-62 mph) in 7.4 seconds and 60-120 km/hr (37-75 mph) of 5.6 seconds.

BRABUS is known throughout the automotive sector for its discerning use of the finest technology to perfect the performance of its exclusive vehicles. The BRABUS Hybrid and Protean Drive™ offer elite automotive customers a practical, environmentally respectful solution without sacrificing performance and power.

"We're pleased to work with BRABUS to demonstrate what Protean's in-wheel electric drive can deliver to the world," Protean CEO Bob Purcell said. "Our in-wheel motors not only provide significant performance improvement, but do so in a very responsible way."

Protean Electric will present its findings, Paper Number 2012-01-1037, "Integrating In-Wheel Motors into Vehicles - Real World Experiences" at 8 a.m. April 25, in room 02-33 at Cobo Center.

For more information on Protean Electric, visit www.proteanelectric.com. For further details on BRABUS, go to www.brabus.com. For more information on SAE, visit www.sae.org.

About Protean: Protean Electric (www.proteanelectric.com) is a leading clean technology company that designs, develops and manufactures the Protean Drive™, a fully integrated, in-wheel motor, direct-drive solution. Protean Electric is strategically positioned to play a major role in the hybrid and electric vehicle market by offering a combination of packaging advantages, new vehicle design opportunities, performance benefits and cost savings. Protean is funded by Oak Investment Partners, a multistage venture capital firm and a lead investor in the next generation of enduring growth companies.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      Edge
      • 3 Years Ago
      I would never get a car with in-wheel motors, simply because it's going to be subject to way more stress than an engine compartment electric engine. You hit a pot hole hard, and it's going to put a huge amount of stress on that motor. An engine compartment electric engine, can be put on shock absorbing mounts. Also, you dealing with multiple motors versus one motor, thus increasing the chances of breakdown over a good single motor design. A engine compartment motor can be larger to allow the incorporation of stronger parts where needed. The main benefit of the in-wheel motors, is that you save on the weight of the drive shaft.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Edge
        Edge We can sum it up as follows: PLUS Ease of installation Potentially low cost of installation on existing vehciles Potential to electrify automobiles at a much higher rate than EVs designed from the ground up Fast/easy replacement Frees up lots of space within the car MINUS Unsprung weight EV motors don't like shocks/vibrations Higher chance of breakdown
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Edge
        The other advantage is that there is no transmission or driveshaft, thus you don't need gears & oil.. Unsprung weight though.. does make for poorer quality ride. And the stresses you talk about are mostly on the bearings. In the electric bike world, where hub motors are very common, there are a lot of hubs that survive multiple years when the rider is taking jumps and going over super rocky pavement. I've never heard of any motor damage other than bearing issues.. they could be more durable than you think.
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wheel motors are such a cool concept. But I wonder if they'll ever be inexpensive and rugged enough to be practical.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        With economies of scale, in-wheel hub motors are cheaper than outrunners/inrunners in the electric bike world. They're rather simple to produce. But they definitely have some limitations ( i've never seen one properly liquid cooled for example )
      • 3 Years Ago
      By using new and advance technology last few years, other vulnerabilities have been found in vehicles. And it's very true they nevertheless point out that that technological advancement comes with compromises. http://newcars.indiandrives.com/upcomingcars.php
      diffrunt
      • 3 Years Ago
      Italics are not very noticeable
      JakeY
      • 3 Years Ago
      It seems at this point, in-wheel motors are only useful if you really, really can't spare any space in the body of the car (like in the conversion shown above). Otherwise, I don't see any benefits over the conventional motor set-up (it seems to cost a lot more money and requires extensive suspension changes to make up for the unsprung mass). I guess that's why Mitsubishi ditched the in-wheel motors when they went to production on the iMIEV.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JakeY
        indeed moving mass into the wheels can make the suspension cheaper because it carries less weight. no motor, no gearbox, no half shafts, no universal joints, no fix points and structure for all those parts. for a super light car it might be really good with wheel motors
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @JakeY
        unsprung mass only means something for baja racers. try to look at a wheel on a car on the road. it doesn't move
      diffrunt
      • 3 Years Ago
      TWENTY FIVE K PER MOTOR????
      skierpage
      • 3 Years Ago
      Protean is the latest iteration of PML (Printed Motors Limited) FlightLink, who made the all-wheel all-in-wheel 640 hp Mini QED in 2006. I wish them luck. It's not that bad to run a driveshaft or half-shaft from an onboard motor The Tesla Model S puts a liquid-cooled 306 hp motor, inverter and gearbox in a compact in-board unit that barely rises above the battery pack in the Model S's "skateboard" chassis; I don't see how this is any better. I still like the Michelin Active Wheel which puts active suspension inside the wheel along with the in-wheel motor. "Michelin has announced that it will partner to bring an affordable electric car powered by its Active Wheel System to the roads in 2010." Oh well.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @skierpage
        I actually think there can be successful configurations with inwheel motors. it's more expensive in motors but at the considerable advantage of having no gearbox and no drive mechanics inside the car. that is no small advantage. particularly light cars will be able to do it (as always). it might not be a good solution for a high performance car because of the inherent very high gearing of direct drive but something like 5-6 second acceleration can be quite adequate in daily driving. porsche 911 manages with around 5 seconds.
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @skierpage
        skierpage True, but then you can install the wheel motors onto just about every car on the road. It would take much more work to convert a car to use an onboard EV motor.. I wish them luck, but I wish their prices were a bit more realistic: $50,000 for 2 wheel motors and systems??
          Nick
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Nick
          UPDATE: $1,500 to $1,800 apiece (as shown in the article) is much more reasonable!
      LEONARD
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is the answer for us in the do it yourself crowd, the pricing has to come down in a major way it's a simple concept thats been around for over 100yrs they can take the abuse, i think there has been alot of blockage of a product like this some other small guys like enertrac have products on the market and at prices the avg joe can buy. Think about it just add battery storage and controls and roll.
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