Protean Electric claims its in-wheel motors, when installed in a diesel Vauxhall Vivaro, boosted the van's fuel economy by some 300 percent (!) in European drive-cycle tests.

Protean Electric outfitted the front-wheel-drive Vivaro with a through-the-road hybrid conversion kit consisting of two of its PD-18 electric motors attached to the rear axle. Together, the pair of motors crank out "torque assist of up to 1,180 pound-feet peak and 740 lb-ft. continuous at the rear wheels."

Torque numbers aside, Protean says the addition of a 21-kWh battery pack means the converted Vauxhall Vivaro can scoot on down the road for "more than 55 miles" in electric-only mode. In hybrid mode, the Vivaro returned a claimed 114 miles per gallon on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), over three times the fuel economy rating of the non-converted van. Protean chief executive officer Bob Purcell called the system "cost-effective," but that doesn't necessarily mean cheap. Until Protean reveals the price for its in-wheel motor system, it's difficult to say whether or not such a setup will wind up in mass-produced vehicles.
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Protean Wheel Motors Provide Significant Fuel Economy Gain on European Hybrid Commercial Van

Diesel-hybrid developed by Protean and UK's Millbrook Proving Ground


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Aug. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A European-based Vauxhall Vivaro equipped with Protean Electric's fuel-saving electric wheel motors showed a 300 percent fuel economy improvement in hybrid mode on a European drive cycle fuel test.

Protean Electric, a leading global supplier of in-wheel electric motors, and Millbrook Proving Ground, one of Europe's leading vehicle test and demonstration centers, partnered to produce the Vivaro diesel hybrid. The vehicle is being shown for the first time in North America at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminar Aug. 1-4 in Traverse City, Mich.

"This Vivaro through-the-road hybrid vehicle demonstrates a practical, cost-effective and efficient way to retrofit a commercial vehicle into a plugin parallel hybrid by simply adding two in-wheel motors and a battery," said Protean Chairman and CEO Bob Purcell. "Our technology is uniquely designed for high-output, high-efficiency operations. Our in-wheel motors are unique in that they have the rotor on the outside and each motor's electronics on the inside. That simplicity of design creates more power density per motor and much simpler vehicle integration. It's the closest thing to a bolt-on hybrid system."

Protean Electric outfitted the front-wheel-drive Vivaro with a through-the-road hybrid conversion kit of two Protean Electric PD-18 motors attached to the rear axle. The two motors together provide torque assist of up to 1,180 lb.-ft. (1,650 Nm) peak and 740 lb.-ft. (1,000 Nm) continuous at the rear wheels.

In addition, Protean added a 21kWh battery, giving the vehicle more than 55 miles (90 km) of electric propulsion range and plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle capabilities. While operating in hybrid mode, the Vivaro measured 114 mpg (2.4 liters/100km) operating over the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), over three times the fuel economy of the conventional vehicle.

The system can also deliver regenerative braking on the rear wheels with no modifications needed to the existing front brakes while retaining the vehicle's original engine and drive system. This high level of regenerative braking allows manufacturers to use a smaller battery size or extend the range with the same battery size.

The Vivaro retrofit also allows the driver the unique advantage of being able to switch between multiple operating modes: two- or four-wheel drive operation, IC engine-only drive, electric-only drive, or an electric torque assist Through-The-Road-Hybrid.

The vehicle underwent a rigorous testing regime jointly conducted by Millbrook and Protean Electric. Work is now underway to build a Vivaro Plug-In Parallel Through-The-Road-Hybrid test fleet for select fleet customers.

"Fleet operators should be lining up for a vehicle such as this that will provide more than a 65 percent reduction in fuel usage and CO2 emissions in a typical urban drive-cycle, while enabling electric-only operation for in-city low-emission zones such as London," Purcell said.

The retrofitted Vivaro also has been shown at the 2011 Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Berlin and the eCarTec show in Munich, Germany.

About Protean:

Protean Electric is a leading clean technology company that designs, develops and manufactures the Protean Drive(TM), a fully integrated, in-wheel motor, direct-drive solution. Each motor has a built-in inverter, control electronics and software, delivering a practical way to electrify small- to full-size vehicles with no compromise in performance. 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. With offices in the UK, Germany and the United States, Protean Electric's core R&D center is based in Farnham, England, with world-class engineering capabilities to develop and support its in-wheel motor system, including electric motor technology, power electronics, control software and vehicle systems.

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