Protean secures $84m funding for in-wheel electric motors

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Michelin in-wheel system

Michelin is developing a rival in-wheel motor system. Image: BY-ND

Protean Electric, a global leader in the development of electric in-wheel motor technology, has secured funding of $84 million to further perfect the technology that can convert any vehicle to electric drive with relative ease.

Improves fuel economy 30 percent

Depending on the kind of vehicle as well as its battery size, Protean says its electric in-wheel system can improve fuel economy by as much as 30 percent. The system was presented at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, and has been demonstrated on vehicles as diverse as a Ford F150 pick-up truck and a Vauxhall Vivaro cargo van, among others.

Protean says the 68 lb. motors will fit comfortably inside a conventional 18- to 24-inch wheel. By utilizing regenerative braking technology, the motors are able to recapture up to 85 percent of the kinetic energy generated.

The radical new motors would also provide the highest amount of torque available for an electric vehicle. A car fitted with the electric in-wheel motors would deliver 81 kW, 110 hp and 800 Nm, 590 lb.-ft. of torque from each motor.

‘Bolt-on solution?’

Bob Purcell, chairman and CEO of Protean Holdings Corp., said:

“We have a very unique value proposition: We can create hybrid and electric drive vehicle options, on the vehicles that people like to drive … We can provide more power, better fuel economy, easier integration, and lower cost. The Protean Electric drive system is probably as close as the industry will ever get to a bolt-on solution.”

Liyang, China production facility

Production of the prototype electric in-wheel systems will begin in 2013 at a facility in Liyang, Jiangsu Province, China. The company hopes to be at full-production the following year.

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Liyang Mayor Su Jianghua said:

“Liyang is becoming a well-known location for companies at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, especially in new energy, and we are very pleased to welcome Protean Electric to our city to manufacture their in-wheel electric drive system.”

Rival in-wheel drive systems

Michelin is also developing a rival electric in-wheel system. Nicolas Zart of Torque News interviewed Ken Stewart, VP of Business Development at Protean Electric. Zart summarized Stewart’s take on the difference between the two systems:

“Michelin’s Active Wheel … takes an electric motor and turns it around into a wheel. But Protean’s system goes even further by offering redundancy by segmenting parts of the in-hub motor in case of highly improbable failures.”

The investors

The $84 million infusion into Protean was provided by GSR Ventures, New Times Group, Oak Investment Partners and the city of Liyang, Jiangsu Province, China.


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