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Protean Electric is ready for the rubber to hit the road for its in-wheel electric-drive system. With one of those systems powering those tires, of course.

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It looks like the company that first got us excited about modern in-wheel motors is finally going forward with commercialization. To paraphrase (poorly) a certain Mr. Sam Cooke, "It's been a long, a long time coming, but I know a Protean Electric Drive™ gonna come. Oh yes, it will."

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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.

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The German aftermarket specialists at Brabus have entered the eco battle with the unveiling of a prototype EV based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Rather than extracting more power out of the E-Class' gasoline engine, Brabus decided to rip out the gasser and replace it with electric-only hardware.

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Ford F-150 with Protean In-Wheel Motors – Click above for high-res image gallery

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