Protean Electric Demonstrates Its Latest Electric Wheel Technology for First Time in U.S.

Aug 01, 2011, 13:10 ET from Protean Electric

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich., Aug. 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest application of Protean Electric's revolutionary fuel-saving in-wheel electric motor technology will make its U.S. premier at the Management Briefing Seminar Aug. 1-4 in Traverse City, Mich.

Protean will offer demonstrations of its Protean Drive™ wheel motors coupled to a front-wheel-drive Vauxhall Vivaro, creating a hybrid, diesel-powered light-commercial van that to date has only been shown in Europe.

The most advanced system in the industry

Protean Drive™ is the most advanced in-wheel electric drive system for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric light duty vehicles. The wheel motors can significantly improve fuel economy, depending on the vehicle and driving mode. For example, on the New European Drive Cycle, the Protean-equipped Vivaro van achieved 114 mpg in hybrid mode, three times the fuel economy of the conventional Vivaro.

In addition, this unique and patented direct-drive design has the highest torque and power density of any electric propulsion system and incorporates the motor control electronics and regenerative braking inside each motor assembly. Each Protean Drive in-wheel motor can deliver 110 hp (81kW) and 590 lb.-ft. (800Nm), yet weighs only 31kg (68lbs) and is sized to fit within the space of a conventional 18-inch road wheel.

"Our technology is uniquely designed for a broad range of vehicle applications," said Bob Purcell, chairman and CEO of Protean. "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 the design creates more power density per motor and much simpler vehicle integration. It's the closest thing to a bolt-on hybrid system."

The motor wheels are powerful enough to be the only source of traction drive for a variety of battery electric vehicles. They can also be added to a FWD or RWD car or truck with an internal combustion engine drivetrain, creating a hybrid configuration. In hybrid applications, the technology is designed to be "driver selectable," meaning driver is able to decide between three operating modes: all electric (city/stop-and-go traffic or low-emissions zones), hybrid (combined constant and slow speeds) or all gas/diesel (constant speeds). They also can provide fully independent torque control, making vehicles safer.

Ease of integration

Importantly, it can be added to vehicles relatively easily, creating a hybrid or plug-in hybrid configuration from an existing conventional vehicle to save fuel, emissions and greenhouse gases, and add torque and power, regardless of whether the vehicles use gas/petrol, diesel or alternative or biofuels.

Since there is no need to make major changes to engine drivetrain or emissions components, manufacturers can potentially deliver on future fuel economy and emission requirements more quickly while saving vehicle development costs. The Protean Drive system can be used to augment engine start-stop systems and allow manufacturers to design vehicles with smaller and more efficient internal combustion engines.

"Protean Electric's patented in-wheel motor design with distributed architecture revolutionizes the integration of electric propulsion and propulsion assist for mass production vehicles," Purcell said. "It has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry and provide the crucial bridge to wider scale adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles."

Summary of benefits:

  • Provides the power and torque required for electrification of full size sedans and SUVs without compromising performance
  • Enables full regenerative braking in normal driving, recapturing large amounts of kinetic energy, which reduces well-to-wheel CO2 emissions for large vehicles to less than those from small city cars and can increase electric range by as much as 50 percent
  • Offers a unique, highly integrated and modular motor/inverter technology with very high power and torque density, which eliminates the need for a separate large power electronics module
  • Packaged in-wheel, which saves large amount of space in the vehicle for passengers, load-space and batteries, and eliminates the need for transmissions, drive shafts and differentials
  • Enables advanced vehicle dynamics through independent "torque vectoring" torque control of each wheel
  • Designed for high volume, low cost automated mass production
  • Supplied with reference control system software for a centralized electronic control unit (ECU), which provides all essential electric vehicle control functionality and braking control

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 United Kingdom, 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.

SOURCE Protean Electric