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Protean Electric forms partnerships for global production of in-wheel drive motors

In-wheel electric drive startup Protean Electric (earlier post) has formed relationships with several leading companies in the global auto industry to accelerate its in-wheel electric drive systems to market in high-volume production. Protean Electric Chairman and CEO Bob Purcell made the announcement at a press conference at the SAE 2012 World Congress in Detroit.

The suppliers and partners are:

  • FEV, based in Aachen, Germany and Auburn Hills, Mich., brings automotive engineering development and services expertise.

  • AB Mikroelektronik GmbH (TT Electronics Group), which focuses on developing and manufacturing top-quality customer-specific electronic modules for high temperature and power in automotive, medical and industrial applications.

  • Alcon, specializing in brake design with automotive and racing-level durability.

  • ATS (Automation Tooling Systems Inc.), a global manufacturing process and equipment manufacturer with unique expertise in bringing automotive innovations to volume production.

  • MAHLE Powertrain, an engineering service provider to the global automotive industry.

  • Trelleborg Sealing Solutions, bringing core competencies and a global reach in seal design and sealing solutions.

Protean’s in-wheel direct-drive motors have the highest torque 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-inch road wheel. Protean Drive also has strong regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking.

The Protean in-wheel motor reverses conventional design, Purcell noted, with the rotor turning outside of the stator. Protean has been awarded 17 patents for its unique technology and design, and more than 60 additional patent applications have been filed internationally and with specific countries in North America, Europe and Asia.

Protean’s in-wheel motors are designed for a broad range of vehicle applications. They can be used in two- and four-wheel drive models and can be added to the front, rear or all four wheels of a vehicle. They also can be added to a FWD or RWD car or truck with an internal combustion engine drivetrain to create a hybrid configuration.

In addition, Protean has demonstrated its in-wheel motors in multiple vehicles, including a Ford F150, Volvo C30, Vauxhall Vivaro cargo van, Guangzhou Automobile Company Trumpchi, and BRABUS full electric and hybrid vehicles based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.



Many future electrified vehicles will be equipped with higher power density, very high efficiency, standardized, very light, lower cost, mass produced, in-wheel e-motors.

Changing a complete wheel with tire, brakes and e-motors will become as easy and quick as changing today's, tires.

It is the way to go to reduce weight and cost of future AWD electrified vehicles. Made in China-India-Brazil etc complete e-wheels will become very low cost.


" 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-inch road wheel."

4 x 590 lb-ft = 1960 lb-ft. Good Grief, one could tow large buildings..


Oops, make that 2360 lb-ft and another towed building.


@kelly That's 3200 Nm 'at-the-wheels' as opposed to flywheel torque normally quoted for IC engine output!

To get 'at-the-wheels' torque figure for a conventional car you must multiply engine torque at the flywheel by the gearing ratios of both the multi-speed gearbox and the final drive ration to get an equivalent.

Dave R

68 lbs is an insane amount of weight to add at the wheels.

Your typical 16-17" wheel combination weighs 40-50 lbs - and now you want to double or quadruple that for 4 wheels?

That is going to significantly affect ride quality and handling - not to mention add a significant amount of rotating mass.

No thanks.

Nick Lyons

Too heavy.


Better have run-flat tires - changing complete wheels with tires, brakes and e-motors will become comparably easy and quick as changing today's, engines (well, not quite, this car would not even have a "spare").


Paul, I don't follow.

Doesn't '590 lb-ft' at the wheel mean more torque than at the flywheel?

If a compact car only needs 1/8th(each, 2 hubs) of this much power - the weight will reduce, if it's not already viable.


In low gear cars typically have a total rpm reduction (torque multiplication) of roughly 15.

A 200 cu-in engine has more than 200 lb-ft of (peak) torque.

So at the wheels - ~3,000 lb-ft .

The high Protean Electric wheel motor has 590 lb-ft.

Four of these anchors would provide a total of almost 2,400 lb-ft.

This is about equivalent to the 200cuin engine (in real world at zero speed).

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