Schaeffler Puts Rear E-Wheel Drive Electric Ford Fiesta On Display

APR 20 2013 BY STAFF 11

Schaeffler will officially present their E-Wheel Drive electric wheel hub drive inside a Ford Fiesta .

This electric Fiesta was produced in association with Ford as a “development vehicle,” so don’t look for this plug-in Ford at your local dealership anytime soon.

The Ford is propelled by twin E-Wheel Drives that are installed in the rear wheel arches. This in-wheel system includes all components required for “drive, deceleration, and driving safety in the highly-integrated wheel hub drive – like the electric motor, power electronics, controller, brake, and cooling system – are installed inside the wheel rim.”

Wheel Hub Drive Cutaway

Wheel Hub Drive Cutaway

Features of the drive units:

  • 40 kW (110hp) per drive, continuous output of 2 x 33 kW (90 hp)
  • liquid-cooled wheel hub drive
  • delivers up to 700 Nm of torque
  • electrical voltage of the high-voltage drive is 360 – 420 V
  • total weight of 53 kilograms, or about 45 kg more than a traditional wheel and bearing
  • inside a 16-inch wheel rim
W-Wheel Fiesta May Show Where The Future Of Small City EVs Are Headed

W-Wheel Fiesta May Show Where The Future Of Small City EVs Are Headed

Prof. Peter Gutzmer, Member of the Executive Board and CTO at Schaeffler, offers his observations on the new technology, which is actually Schaeffler’s 2nd generation prototype:

“The B-segment vehicle serves as a pre-production model. However, wheel hub drives have to be integrated into new vehicle concepts in order to demonstrate their strengths to the full. Thanks to this highly-integrated wheel hub drive, we can now re-think the city car without restrictions. It will be a key factor in new vehicle concepts and automobile platforms in the future.”

“For electric vehicles used in urban environments, which may become obligatory in many densely populated areas, the wheel hub drive makes previously unheard-of space savings possible. In these new vehicle concepts, all components that are relevant for propulsion, braking, and driving safety are housed inside the wheel. The vehicle platform therefore provides maximum space for passengers, luggage, and for the battery, electronics, and communication systems. And vehicle manufacturers can use this as a basis for a range of different body designs. Automobile manufacture originally started in just the same way.”

For more information (and quotes) about Schaeffler’s E-Wheel Drive research project, check out the company’s press release on the Ford concept car here.


Categories: Concepts, Ford, General

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11 Comments on "Schaeffler Puts Rear E-Wheel Drive Electric Ford Fiesta On Display"

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Can someone please do an analysis comparing the details of this design and the Protean?

The obvious advantage here is that this unit fits in a 16-inch wheel. Protean’s setup requires at least an 18-inch wheel.

Ewheel / Protean

110hp / 110hp
700Nm / 800Nm
360-420V / 200-400V
53kg / 31kg(motor only)
16″ / 18″
Liquid cooled / ?

Definitely seems to be some advantages here,,especially if you put a motor on each wheel. Obviously there are disadvantages also that have been previously discussed like more unsprung weight and corrosion of the motors. they should have done a AWD demonstrator.

Usually when we see these things they have motors at all four wheels with at least 600 hp, then we find the things don’t actually work in the real world. I’m happy someone has finally put a reasonably powered unit on 2 wheels. This thing must have a very tiny turning radius if the front wheels have a 180 degree arc.

The naysayers always talk about “Direct drive motors can’t be done because of the unsprung weight”. I always wondered, “Why not? the brakes are Direct Drive !”. Besides more and more groups are trying to make these things work since they ultimately free up gobs of space, simplify things, and should be cheaper to make (a moderately powered 2 wheel version, that is).

So, the Protean and the Schaeffler are darn-near identical — and they’re announcements come out within a couple of days of each other. Helluva coincidence.

Put them on a Chicago taxi cab for a couple of years, then let me know how they work.

Given the excellent compact pretty-much-everything-between-the-axles design of the Tesla and the unsprung weight and reliability issues inherent in these wheel-motor designs, I doubt wheel-motors will become popular until room-temperature superconductors enable the wheel-motors to weigh much less.

Now that this is a good news, but I believed that Protean Electric wasn’t expecting to reveal their electric wheel this soon, their schedule should have been interrupted by Schaeffler’s eWheel drive announcement. Sure I am not saying that Protean doesnt have anything on their hands, but just that they wasnt expecting other companies like Schaeffler announced the same project ahead of them. Now with 2 companies doing the same tech, there sure to be more competition thus leading to faster development, which in the end the consumer benefits. So far both of them have their own pros and cons comparing to each other, the next step for both companies would be how to reduce the motor weight and increases the driving performance and handling.

As a person who drives constantly in very busy inner cities – whether it be London or Paris, it seems to me that the Schaeffler 16″ wheel will make a big difference over the Protean 18″. Not only will it make parking a lot easier, especially with the 90 degree steering lock, but it will free up more interior space – a big bonus when it is necessary to carry loads of gear as I do.

I congratulate Schaeffler on getting this out before Protean and I am looking forward to it going into production, however I believe I read that the Schaeffler version will fit onto pretty much any size of car, from the mini EV’s to something perhaps in excess of the Ford Focus. Anyone heard anything about this ?

People are pointing towards ‘un-sprung’ weight. Well we are gaining space in return. We are going to get more maneuverability with a small turning circle and while parking in tight spaces. I would say, “Well done, Schaeffler”. They have demonstrated their engineering excellence.

We should consider that this one is a prototype. Tons of improvements can be made on this one to make it an outstanding EV. The natural expectation is the all wheel drive after this rear wheel drive. We will wait to see that. Schaeffler gave us a promising solution in collaboration with Ford.

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If you have watched the video of Ford testing this ewheel Fiesta, you would see that the handling wasnt that bad, so there is no need to panic too much, and as Kahn L said we should just consider this as a prototype, Ford is not selling us this vehicle which is still in development. There is recent news about Schaeffler, Ford will team up with Continental, RWTH Aachen and the University of Applied Sciences, Regensburg to develop the EV much further, 2 new EV vehicles are expected to demonstrate by 2015. If Protean is not getting any external support, it is really very hard fro them to compete against these world class manufacturers and institutions.