Protean Electric unveiled the production-ready version of its in-wheel electric motor system at the 2013 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit on April 16.

Protean Demo Mock Up

Protean Demo Mock Up

According to Protean, its in-wheel motor will be mass produced starting in 2014 following the successful testing of prototype versions in several vehicles, including the Vauxhall Vivaro cargo van, Guangzhou Trumpchi sedan, a Ford F150 and BRABUS vehicles based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class.

Protean says it in-wheel motors could be utilized for pure electric vehicles, but sees greater potential for the system to be part of an EREV setup.

Specs for Protean's production version are impressive:

  • Mass of 68 pounds per motor
  • Up to 85% of the available kinetic energy recovered during braking
  • Fuel economy improvements up to 30% in hybrid configurations
  • Peak torque of 735 pound-feet (torque not measured using standard SAE automotive formula)
  • Peak horsepower of 100 hp
We do see a few issues with Protean's setup though.  First, even at 68 pounds, that's a lot of unsprung weight for most suspension system to cope with.  Second, there's no word on price, which could make or break the use of such a system.  Finally, Protean says it motor only fits wheels 18-inches or larger in diameter, which means that most compacts and subcompacts out there today could not employ such a setup unless wheel sizes on those vehicles grew by a few inches.