Protean Electric has received noteworthy praise for its unique in-wheel electric drive propulsion system. Car and Driver named it one of the 10 Most Promising Technologies for 2013. This ranking accompanies the publication's 10 Best Cars Celebration, which has existed for more than three decades in the world's largest auto enthusiast magazine.

Car and Driver's technical director, Don Sherman, sees a lot of potential in Protean's in-wheel and wheel-hub motors for upcoming electric and hybrid vehicles. "Integrating the propulsion system with the wheel hubs will enable designers and engineers to achieve major gains in packaging efficiency, fuel economy and, potentially, performance," he said in the statement you can find below.

Protean says that its in-wheel electric drive offers several unique features, including fuel economy improvements up to 30 percent depending on battery size; the highest torque density of any of today's leading electric propulsion systems; and superior regenerative braking capabilities, allowing up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking.

Aside from Michelin's ActiveWheels, there isn't much else like Protean's technology out there. Also, Protean is now referring to the technology as in-wheel electric drive instead of how it used to be identified, in-wheel motors. Electric vehicles are typically powered by a motor fueled with electricity stored in an onboard battery. Protean's technology is considered an electric drive, as well, but it's generating power within each of the wheels. You can read more about in-wheel motors here.

The amount of power produced for each vehicle varies by how many wheels receive Protean in-wheel units. Some vehicles, such as hybrids, may just have two of the wheels installed with Protean motors, while some could have four. Protean's in-wheel electric drive system has the capacity to deliver up to 80 kW (110 horsepower), but the electronics are inside the wheel.

It is taking a while to catch on. Protean Electric has demonstration models out there now, including a Ford F-150 pickup, Volvo C30, Vaxhaull Vivaro cargo van, Guangzhou Automobile Company Trumpchi, and Brabus full electric and hybrid vehicles, based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. As for finished versions available at dealerships, that's yet to be announced.

The company did find investors earlier this year – $84 million worth. At that time, Protean set up a cost-effective production facility in Liyang, China that can handle a modest amount of volume. As for now, winning recognition from Car and Driver is a positive development.
Protean's In-wheel Electric Drive Earns "Most Promising Technology" Honors From Car And Driver Magazine

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Protean Electric's advanced in-wheel electric drive has been named one of the 10 Most Promising Technologies for 2013 by Car and Driver magazine.

Being named to this list is evidence that Protean Electric's in-wheel electric drive has a bright future in the global auto industry, according to Car and Driver, the world's largest auto enthusiast magazine. This list of Most Promising Technologies accompanies Car and Driver's 10Best Cars celebration, which has existed for more than three decades.

Car and Driver's technical director, Don Sherman, author of the Most Promising Technology feature, is a strong believer in the potential of in-wheel and wheel-hub motors for coming electric and hybrid-electric automobiles.

"Integrating the propulsion system with the wheel hubs will enable designers and engineers to achieve major gains in packaging efficiency, fuel economy and, potentially, performance," he noted. "We expect Protean Electric, the leader in this field, to help manufacturers implement this technology."

"To be named a leader and one of the Most Promising Technologies by Car and Driver is an immense honor. This recognition indicates that the industry is no longer thinking of 'if' but 'when' in-wheel motors will be commonly used across a wide range of vehicles. And we believe that when is now," said Protean Electric Chairman and CEO Bob Purcell.

Protean's In-wheel Electric-drive Solution
Protean offers a unique value proposition to the auto industry and its customers, Purcell added.

"We can create hybrid and electric-drive options on the vehicles that people like to drive," he said. "We can provide more power, better fuel economy, easier integration and lower cost. The Protean electric-drive system is probably as close as the industry will ever get to a bolt-on solution."

Features of Protean's in-wheel motors include:

• Fuel economy improvements up to 30 percent depending on battery size
• Highest torque density of any of today's leading electric propulsion systems
• 81 kW (110 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb.-ft. torque) in each motor
• Weight of only 31 kg (68 lbs.) per motor
• Fits within the space of a conventional 18-inch road wheel
• Superior regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking

Protean has been awarded 25 patents for its unique technology and design, and 84 additional patent applications have been filed internationally and with specific countries in North America, Europe and Asia. Protean also has won the prestigious 2012 Technology Pioneers Award from the World Economic Forum as being one of most promising start-up technology companies in the world.
In addition, Protean has developed multiple demonstration vehicles, including a Ford F150 pick-up truck, Volvo C30, Vauxhall Vivaro cargo van, Guangzhou Automobile Company Trumpchi, and BRABUS full electric and hybrid vehicles, based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

About Protean:
Protean Electric 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, GSR Ventures and Jiangsu New Times Holding Group Co., Ltd. Protean Electric has operations in the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Germany. For more information, visit www.proteanelectric.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 39 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      So this is not out for the public yet or any thing like this? Could one install this in a model s and extend the range?
      Brian P
      • 2 Years Ago
      In-wheel motors also add unsprung rotating weight, which is the worst kind. Bad for ride and handling and NVH. If you want the motor to be efficient, you have to add more copper and iron, which adds even more unsprung weight. There is really not a whole lot wrong with mounting the motor inboard, driving through a gear reduction and CV-jointed shafts, and now the motor is not restricted in size and shape and operating RPM range, and it can be better protected from road salt, water, etc - and it won't affect the unsprung weight.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brian P
        Giza, you must not live in America
          2 wheeled menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          I ride a bicycle with only a weak front suspesion at an average speed of 25mph.. Vibration is the main reason why i don't go any faster.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          A bike is more controllable, as to what exactly the wheels are going over. A car must stay in a lane, and is prone to more unavoidable road surface.
          Giza Plateau
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Please, you ride a bicycle with no suspension. Don't give me that 'murica nonsense.
        Giza Plateau
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brian P
        Roads are flat, unsprung mass doesn't matter one bit. It's maybe important for a Baja racer. Maybe a rally car. Doesn't matter for a road car, might even be beneficial.
          Snark
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Giza Plateau
          Roads are not flat.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brian P
        It is mostly not rotating weight. Most of the motor does not rotate.
        Greg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brian P
        You don't even need a central motor. You can still have a separate motor for each wheel, and located it where the axles currently are, thus bypassing any need for transmission, CV jts etc., but you'd remove the unsprung mass.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Brian P
        Unsprung weight can be properly compensated for with suspension changes. "The studies concluded, and the presenters argue, that while the vehicle carrying the greater unsprung mass at each wheel did display perceptible differences compared with the stock vehicle, those differences were minor and can be mitigated using “normal engineering processes within a product development cycle.” By fitting the upgraded ST-level suspension to the car replicating one equipped with Protean PD18 in-wheel motors, the vehicle’s handling and on-center tracking were improved back to reference. Overall, the effort conducted by Protean Electric, Lotus Engineering, and Dunamos may help convince skeptics that the addition of 30 kg of unsprung mass per corner will not adversely impact overall vehicle dynamics and can be addressed fairly easily with cost-effective countermeasures." http://ev.sae.org/article/9493
      Giza Plateau
      • 2 Years Ago
      Protean is PML flightlink. You remember the Mini Cooper with inwheel motors? http://www.proteanelectric.com/?page_id=1460&post=258 The product that you could never buy.
        Snark
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Giza Plateau
        It was never intended to be a product you could buy. It was a testbed and demonstrator only.
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      An, In-Axle motor like on the Tesla Model S seems to have similar packaging advantages, coupled with lower unsprung weigh, less road shock on the motors and I suspect, lower price.
      Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      This seems to be the answer to a question that no one is asking. Fitting watermelon sized motors into a car doesnt seem like nearly as much of a problem as fitting battery packs and or fuel cells and hydrogen tanks.
        Jon
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        Perhaps but the argument can be made that putting the motor in the wheels leaves more flexibility for packaging the other components you mentioned.
        HVH20
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        You are correct Dave. Battery Systems are the DIVA of electric vehicles. Battery management, thermal management, physically delicate, expensive, potentially hazardous (fuel is worse), and everyone wants as many in there as possible without being noticed.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Dave
        True, electric motors are super small in relation to their power output. I've seen plenty of EV conversions done where all the extra space in the engine bay was used to store batteries. It sure would be nice to get rid of the transmission, drive axles, etc though. This is where direct drive really does shine.
          Spec
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Yeah, that is often an answer that can be provided to those who ask "where are you going to put all those batteries in car" . . . with an electric car you can eliminate a LOT of the volume used by the ICE engine system since you remove big bulky ICE engine, a hot exhaust system, the fuel system, the transmission is replaced with a smaller gearbox, no clutch, no alternator, etc. Of course that is also the problem with PHEVs . . . having to squeeze BOTH power trains into a single car. And that hasn't been easy. The Karma has a tiny interior, the Volt is 4 seater, the C-Max Energi takes up a lot of trunk space, etc.
          Greg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Just look at the Tesla. The car's layout is incredibly simple and it loses no space common for an ICE drive train.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Spec - depending on the size and precision of the motor, the gearing may not be an issue. I would have to math, but the nifty thing about electrics is high torque, high rpm. They don't have the extremely limited rpm range of an ice.
      The Mercers
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was involved many years ago, very indirectly, with a similar project. The challenge then, that ended the project, was -- potholes. That is, by putting some of the drivetrain in the wheel, it is now unsprung, and subject to road shocks. I can't imagine the developers of Protean haven't taken this into account, but it would be interesting to know how they have toughened up the motor to withstand intense shocks. I would imagine a 75-mph run down a nicely-potholed street in a Northern city might settle the issue!
        2 wheeled menace
        • 2 Years Ago
        @The Mercers
        How long did you experiment with these hub motors? Did you also encounter the motor contracting and expanding, which leads to it ******* in condensation, which likes to hang out inside? Did you encounter the long term effects of snow + salt? Ebike hub motor manufacturers have been trying to figure out a way around that for a decade. Also, did you notice that you had to overspec the motors a hell of a lot versus using a multi-geared system? direct drive is always requires more motor..
          2 wheeled menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Wow, autoblog censors words that aren't even curse words lol.. How about 'intakes in condensation' ... O_O
      fred schumacher
      • 2 Years Ago
      110 hp per motor is too much power. The key is to downsize all components. With motors in the hubs and without an ICE drivetrain, the entire size and weight of the vehicle can be reduced, thus also reducing the amount of power required to move it. My 1993 minivan had less power than one of these Protean motors, yet I never felt underpowered. Motors in the 25 to 40 hp range would be appropriate, when placed in all four wheels. That would reduce unsprung weight.
      diffrunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Michelin has the geared style you mentioned for years now. Don't know of production . https://www.google.com/search?q=Michelin+in+wheel+motors&hl=en&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=rirFUL3MO--n0AH01YH4Cg&ved=0CEUQsAQ&biw=932&bih=601
      HVH20
      • 2 Years Ago
      I see the inside out braking system developed by Buell.
      Greg
      • 2 Years Ago
      But what does this do to unsprung mass? Those things have to weigh as much as anchors, which would ruin the ride quality.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      I forgot about the michelin design - wow, those are weird motor wheels!
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