protean in-wheel motorsProtean Electric has reached an agreement for its all-electric in-wheel motors to go in some of Volkswagen's vehicles. Sadly, they're not going into the Bug or Vanagon.

The compact-sedan VW Bora (which is similar to a Jetta, older version pictured above) is the platform that gets the honor of housing Protean Electric's motors, which will be packed behind the rear wheels of the battery-electric car. The collaboration is actually "several" months old, and product testing will be finished in about a year. Protean, whose in-wheel motors each weigh about 75 pounds and deliver about a 100 horsepower, touts their higher torque and better efficiency, as well as their ability to recapture about 85 percent of the kinetic energy from braking through their regenerative braking system. The engines can also be tucked in behind standard 18-inch wheels. This is not the first time the Bora has been chosen to test new technology. The vehicle was turned into the e-Bora a few years ago.

Michigan-based Protean, which has said it's working on building a factory in China, last year secured an $84-million funding round and showed off a production version of its electric-drive propulsion system at Detroit's Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress this spring. Last year, Car and Driver referred to the Protean Electric system as one of the 10 Most Promising Technologies for 2013. You can read Protean's press release below.
Show full PR text
Protean Electric Announces Partnership To Develop In-Wheel Motor Propulsion System With FAW-Volkswagen

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Dec. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Protean Electric, the global leader of advanced in-wheel electric drive, today announces its partnership with FAW-VOLKSWAGEN AUTOMOTIVE CO., LTD. (FAW-VW) to develop an all new electric propulsion system that will include Protean Electric's award-winning Protean Drive™ with intent towards a demonstration vehicle program and production.

FAW-VW will create an all-new rear-wheel drivetrain for a pure Electric Vehicle (EV) based on the new Bora compact sedan, utilizing two Protean in-wheel motors. This cooperation began several months ago and so all bench testing, engineering calibration and on site application support is expected to be completed within a year. Protean Electric will also assist FAW-VW in the development of safety and vehicle controls that can be applied to additional vehicle programs.

"Protean Electric is very pleased and honored to be working with FAW-VW. Our involvement with this prestigious automaker shows that Protean Electric is continuing to serve as a valuable resource for OEMs as they develop New Energy Vehicle programs," says Kwok-yin Chan, CEO of Protean Holdings Corp. "This is a two-phase project that will capitalize on the torque and packaging freedoms that Protean Drive™ can bring to an automaker. Our technology will return the space to the new Bora vehicle platform that was formerly occupied by an in-board motor and powertrain."

The motors reside in the space behind the wheel, producing torque and power exactly where and when drivers need it. Protean's new production motor provides the highest torque and power density of any leading electric propulsion system. Each in-wheel motor comes with its own power and control electronics packaged inside the motor, which communicates with the vehicle by utilizing a common vehicle control system.

Features of Protean's in-wheel motors include:

75 kW (100 hp) peak power
Highest torque density of any of today's leading electric drive systems
Mass of only 34 kg (75 lbs.) per motor
Power and control electronics packaged inside the motor
Superior regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking
Fits within a conventional 18" road wheel
In addition, Protean has developed multiple vehicles with various global OEMs for demonstration in the US, Europe and China.

Protean has been awarded 33 patents for its unique technology and design, with 101 additional international patent applications pending. Protean has won the prestigious 2012 Technology Pioneers Award from the World Economic Forum and received recognition from Car and Driver magazine as one of the ten most promising technologies for 2013.

About Protean:
Protean Electric is a leading clean technology company that designs, develops and manufactures 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, China and Hong Kong. For more information, visit www.proteanelectric.com.

About FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Co. LTD:
The FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Company (FAW-VW) was founded in 1991 and is a Chinese joint venture between FAW Group Corporation, a Chinese state-owned automotive manufacturing company and Volkswagen Group. The headquarters of FAW-VW is located in the south-western section of Changchun, Jilin Province. On August 15, 2011, FAW-VW celebrated its twentieth anniversary with a milestone of producing its one millionth car.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      Technoir
      • 1 Year Ago
      They have gone a very long way....I hope it will come out for real one day.
      danfred411
      • 1 Year Ago
      Any day now
      DaveMart
      • 1 Year Ago
      And here is a Lotus assessment: http://www.proteanelectric.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/protean-Services.pdf And another assessment here: 'The obvious impact of implementing in-wheel motors on a vehicle is to increase its unsprung mass. Slightly less obvious effects are to increase the yaw inertia and to improve the torque response rate. Popular reservations around increased unsprung mass centre on degraded ride and grip performance. These aspects of performance have been examined in detail and can be summarised thus: - ride overall: difference in road roughness results in very large differences in scores compared to influence of unsprung mass - primary ride: no discernible difference on smooth roads, slight degradation in rough road performance - secondary ride: slight degradation in both rough and smooth road performance may require detail changes to seat or suspension components - refinement: some change in suspension component detail may be required to recover small loss in refinement behaviour - active safety: noticeable but not severe loss in smooth and rough road grip levels; slight increase in damping levels may be required to optimise performance - driveablity: slight changes to suspension components may be required to restore agility http://www.proteanelectric.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/protean-Services3.pdf These were some time ago, so improvements may have been made since.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @DaveMart
        The only improvement that could be made that would improve this situation is a reduction of weight. So has the weight reduced? These motor wheels seem to be barely adequate in power in the first place, and hub motors have *awful* power density per LB to start in such large wheel sizes, so i doubt that the weight will or can be reduced. At least they are being honest about the unsprung weight making the ride crappy though.
      JB
      • 1 Year Ago
      Eliminating power ******* CV joints and flexibility with steering design is a major plus to mention more.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JB
        2WM... exactly. Why do people insist on getting rid of CV joints... they are not a huge expense, source of inefficiency, or weight. They do take up some space, but allow for the lowest possible unsprung weight. The flexibility in the drive can still be had since motors can be between the wheels with a LSD allowing for good 4 wheel drive dynamics.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JB
        What's the ***** that autoblog censored? There are pluses to hub motors, but the minuses outweigh them. CV joints allow the motor to be separated from the suspension, meaning that the motor driving the wheels is not unsprung weight. This is a good thing. It's good for handling. Direct drive hub motors have terrible power density. Let's think about the last generation Tesla Roadster motor: Under 70lbs and produced up to 288 horsepower. One of these hub motors is 75lbs and produces 100 horsepower. To produce the same equivalent power, you would need 3 of these motors, weighing 225lbs. 225lbs of unsprung weight would suck a lot.
          JB
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Yeah 225lbs is a lot. The brakes are integrated, so you have to subtract that weight and the weight of the half shafts and cvs. I dont know if it is true, but a recent ABG article mentioned that consumers did not notice the sprung weight. When people talk about big brakes, wheels and tires, you never hear unsprung weight, but hub motors -every time.
          JB
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          I think I wrote s-u-c-king. Ooops.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh, i missed one thing in the article. The controller is integrated into the motor. This is a bad idea in practice every time it has been done. The result is always premature controller failure every time it has been tried because the heat from the electrical motor and controller combined tend to compound, and the controller blows first. Sure, this protects the motor, but you don't want one of your hub wheels suddenly going dead on you while you're on the highway or climbing some major hill, do you? There is a hidden advantage here if you are a hobbyist though. These hub motors with controllers built in often come with added thermal mass or heat dissipation fins to handle the combined heat of the controller and motor. If you take out the controller and run an external controller, the result is that the motor can typically be pushed much harder. I did this with a motor called a 'magic pie' and got it to sustain about 3-4 times it's wattage rating for quite some time. Very strong motor. Pushed this 270lb rider up a 7% sustained grade at 35-38mph. The motor was designed to do about 25-30mph on flat ground. Lol.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Higher torque and better efficiency than what? ( Danny, please stop adding your own flavor in.. ) These motors are really a dead end. Great for a California compliance car, or maybe a hobbyist conversion, but a very bad design for a car that is designed to last. That being said, i'd love to see the inside of one which has melted going up a hill or rusted from water ingress because i am curious how thy actually differ from the crappy hub motors we see in electric bicycles. It would be awesome if they could prove me wrong by creating the first truly sealed hub motor that doesn't suck though. Make me eat crow..
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Really, the best thing going for hub motors is the adaptability to throw into a quick conversion. OEMs should not touch this with a 39.5' pole.