Protean Electric in wheel motors will first get adopted by chinese carmakers

Protean Electric is an award-winning technology company that has developed an in-wheel electric drive system for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric light-duty vehicles. The Protean Drive® system can improve vehicle fuel economy, add torque, increase power and enable improved vehicle handling to both new and existing vehicles.

Protean Drive® is designed for a broad array of vehicles including sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks and commercial vans – any vehicle with an 18- to 24-inch wheel. The system also can be added to existing cars and trucks, utilizing their current internal combustion engine drivetrain. This allows automakers to create hybrid vehicles in less time and with far fewer changes to the vehicle design and components.

Protean Electric has designed and developed a unique in-wheel electric drive system for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric light-duty vehicles. A typical passenger car would have two such motors, while a heavy-duty or high-performance vehicle could have a motor in each of its wheels.

Protean Electric expects its first customers to be Chinese automakers, who will use the motor in their plug-in hybrids or pure electric cars.

Protean’s system can increase fuel economy by over 30 percent depending on the battery size and driving cycle. It is also powerful enough to be the only source for traction on a variety of vehicles. Its ease of integration can simplify the adoption of hybrid and electrified powertrains across a broad range of vehicles.

Protean’s in-wheel motors have the highest torque and power density of any of today’s leading electric propulsion systems. Each Protean Drive® in-wheel motor can deliver 81 kW (110 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft), yet weighs only 31 kg (68 lbs.) and is sized to fit within the space of a conventional 18- to 24-inch road wheel.

Protean Drive® also has superior regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking. This can increase driving range up to 30 percent and contribute to the reduction of battery size and cost.

Other benefits include:

Can deliver hybrid and electric vehicle technology faster and with fewer new parts, less complexity, and at a lower total cost than other leading electric drive systems
Can be developed as a retrofit application for existing fleets as well as for new vehicles
Does not require external gearing, drive shafts or differentials
Each motor has a built-in inverter, control electronics and software
Does not require a separate motor power electronics module to be fitted to the vehicle
Can be added to FWD, RWD or AWD platforms regardless of the fuel type
Avoids costs of unique hybrid drive tooling changes to chassis, bodies and transmissions
Can help create a hybrid vehicle with fewer changes to the base engine systems and components and is less disruptive in the assembly plant
Can be a common system for HEV, PHEV and EV vehicles on the same platform

30 thoughts on “Protean Electric in wheel motors will first get adopted by chinese carmakers”

  1. In wheel motors have a lot going for them, but their great disadvantage is, that you want to keep the unsprung mass in a vehicle as low as possible. One of the early adopters of the idea was Ferdinand Porsche in the early 1900s.

  2. For a 4×4 that’s a lot of power and an insane amount of torque. I’m thinking something scaled down to 60% of that would be plenty and it would weight about 40 pounds. I also think the electronics would be better suited to being placed where it wouldn’t add to the wheel weight and wouldn’t get pounded by driving on rough trails. Jeep are you listening???

  3. A lot of weight on the wrong side of the suspension. Un-sprung masses that are heavier require more energy to move. (Not talking about rotation but road hazards that make the wheel want to hop off the road. Example:pothole). Once it starts to move, it takes a lot of time and energy to stop it from moving. 60 pound motor on the wheel is going to be hard to keep from hopping after hitting a good bump. I wonder how the stock suspensions are able to keep this wheel assembly on the road.

  4. The writing is on the wall. With the steady drop in battery prices, new battery technologies, China and other countries starting to ban the IC motor and with battery prices dropping at the same rate as solar panels did carbon based energy is not long for the world. Trying to save gas/oil is going to be about as successful as bring back coal as an energy solution. You might as well have backed the buggy whip makers at the dawn of the automobile.

    • You are right. The electric car revolution will also cause a profound and endless drop in oil prices and massive transfer of wealth from dictatorships with nonproductive economies toward free, developed and productive, innovative coutries. This will be very positive.

      • Agreed, I think we are seeing that already with Saudi Arabia with the way they are all the sudden diversifying their economy. We will still need better power generation because of it though. China is converting their coal fired boilers used to generate electricity to nuclear power, just the boilers and everything else the same. We should be emulating them. If we could get some reactors that are non-pressurized (safer) and eat our current nuclear waste would be best, as long as they are price competitive. Wind and solar are great, but if we went with that we would need to seriously ramp up further than we are, considering they don’t currently produce much of our power.

    • Lithium-Sulfur to replace a chemistry requiring cobalt–NCA used by Tesla? Not enough cobalt available at the current price point, as a secondary recovery from copper or nickel mining.

  5. “18- to 24-inch road wheel”. That’s not a small wheel, certainly not going to fit in the wheel size of small cars. 4wd or trucks only.

  6. The linked article is 3.5 years old.
    They seem to have some activity going on though so the company is not necessarily dead yet:
    In-wheel motors seems like a good idea in general. High unsprung mass could in theory be at least somewhat countered by using smaller brakes or no brakes at all (using the motor to brake instead).

    • The cost of carbon fiber wheels has come down considerably as well. For low speed city applications, I don’t think the suspension tradeoffs from in-wheel motors would be the end of the world especially given the packaging benefits of getting rid of drive shafts.

  7. and enable improved vehicle handling

    This at the very least is doubtful. They add 31kg unsprung mass per wheel… (So 62, or 124kg)

  8. surprised this hasn’t been done before. The only drawback is the weight of the wheel. With high performance driving it’s important to have low unsprung weight. The weight impedes quick reactions to bumps and accelerations. Still, it opens up a lot of neat abilities for four wheel drive vehicles, the loss of axles and driveshafts makes for lots of designs not seen before.. I have to think most of the efficiencies noted in the article have to do with driveline and not with the motor itself. I personally would like to see a low platform pickup truck. Without the driveline the only height constraints would be the frame, yet the truck could still have four wheel drive. Another benefit would be the computer deciding how much power each wheel should have for steering or road conditions. Really a wonderful addition to automobiles.

    • Michelin had an active wheel concept (prototype?), where the wheel also included a suspension, an active suspension at that..
      I would love to see a functioning version of that in an actual car.

    • Also, no friction brake in same wheel (if your motor shorts out, how well will it brake?) – if only because of the heat the brakes would expose the motor to. I guess if you put the motors only in the front wheels, your rear wheels could still have friction brakes as a back-up…

      • They’d need a friction brake (though huge disk brakes wouldn’t be need) because it would crazy to not have them.

      • I think it would be better to do the reverse from a vehicle dynamics perspective, no? Front suspension is more important than rear and in an emergency front brakes to apply the majority of the force.

    • Yes, it was mostly delayed by the high unsprung weight, which has implications for the tires, too. Higher power to weight ratio motors improved the situation.

      With the motor in wheel concept, it also becomes fairly easy to do 4 wheel steering, which has all sorts of advantages for turning radius and handling around curves.

    • actually it has been done before by many, (and many years ago as well) i rather blame a terrible pattent system cause these ideas are old, and have been used many years before them. they might get into legal trouble if they have pattented it since they are not the first

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