Protean Teams Up With Volkswagen to Develop Production In-Wheel Electric Motor

DEC 13 2013 BY MARK KANE 10



Protean Electric just announced a partnership with FAW-VOLKSWAGEN to develop an all new electric propulsion system for electric cars based on the FAW-VW Bora compact sedan.

The system will of course include the latest generation of Protean Electric’s Protean Drive in-wheel motors shown earlier this year.

FORD F150 with Protean Electric motors

FORD F150 with Protean Electric motors

According to the press release, cooperation began several months ago and has two stages – demonstration vehicle program and production. The second stage was the Achilles heel of all in-wheel motor programs, because to date we don’t see any series production of cars with such a drivetrain. Protean Electric alone has developed multiple vehicles with various global OEMs but all for demonstration purposes.

“This cooperation began several months ago and so all bench testing, engineering calibration and on site application support is expected to be completed within a year. Protean Electric will also assist FAW-VW in the development of safety and vehicle controls that can be applied to additional vehicle programs.”

Protean-equipped Vauxhall Vivaro

Protean-equipped Vauxhall Vivaro

The electric car from FAW-VOLKSWAGEN will get two Protean Drive motors for rear-wheels.

Kwok-yin Chan, CEO of Protean Holdings Corp. stated:

“Protean Electric is very pleased and honored to be working with FAW-VW. Our involvement with this prestigious automaker shows that Protean Electric is continuing to serve as a valuable resource for OEMs as they develop New Energy Vehicle programs. This is a two-phase project that will capitalize on the torque and packaging freedoms that Protean Drive™ can bring to an automaker. Our technology will return the space to the new Bora vehicle platform that was formerly occupied by an in-board motor and powertrain.”

Protean’s in-wheel motors features:

  • 75 kW (100 hp) peak power
  • Highest torque density of any of today’s leading electric drive systems
  • Mass of only 34 kg (75 lbs.) per motor
  • Power and control electronics packaged inside the motor
  • Superior regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking
  • Fits within a conventional 18” road wheel

Categories: Volkswagen


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10 Comments on "Protean Teams Up With Volkswagen to Develop Production In-Wheel Electric Motor"

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Why rear wheels? Front wheel drives do better in snow/ice conditions. And there’s no mechanical reason to go rear vs front……

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Because RWD is superior. FWD does better in slipperier conditions because the engine is in the front, thus putting a big lump of weight on top of the wheels to get traction. Remove the engine and you remove much of the benefit. Meanwhile, you’re now asking the front tires to provide both steering and acceleration, which leads to torque steer, understeer, and lower grip.

Having RWD with 50/50% weight distribution is ideal, and traction control makes FWD essentially obsolete.

Of course, everyone really wants 4 hub motor AWD with torque vectoring, for the best of all possible worlds.


RWD does better in clean/dry conditions. Also, with a good traction control system (BMW comes to mind), RWD is just as good in ice and snow.

The real question is, why not AWD? With 75kW at each wheel, driving in any conditions would be a blast!

Martin Tesar

Correct both Dr. & Brian.
Why do you think any decent RWD car in Australia is RWD.
– But yes going in Wheel motor ….. AWD with torque vectoring control
Is the ultimate!
Want now !!!


The reason why rear wheels and not front wheels is that the rotational momentum will resist changes in angle, in this case changes in steering. It’s the reason why gyroscopes maintain their balance. With these wheels running a significant weight, much of which is rotational, the resistance to change in direction can be significant.


The first market for wheel-motors would likely be larger vehicles in which the higher amount of unsprung weight would be less of an issue due to the greater weight of the whole vehicle. Indeed, the first efforts in this direction were in buses, which makes sense (also because the buses would not be expected to turn high revs on the highway, which wheel motors are less capable of providing). Finally, while wheel-motors offer fantastic vehicle space in any vehicle, the additional useful space in the bus would be especially beneficial.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Protean claims that proper suspension choices and tuning will mitigate the unsprung weight issue even in passenger cars:


At the moment, I feel like in-wheel motors are solving a problem that doesn’t exist. The mechanical motion of the wheel is going to cause reliability issues, too, for electrical joints and alignment.

Low cost, high power induction motors are the top priority to get EV sales up.

Bill Howland

You would think mating 2 of these things to a mid size to large car like a chevy impala would provide a very low cost EV. And all that spare space to fill with batteries.


Front steering geometry is one of the main reasons most in-wheel motor prototypes demonstrated to-date have only been used on the rear axle.

Most FWD cars use negative scrub radius to prevent torque steer. Due to their outer dimensions, many ‘drum brake type’ wheel motors adversely affect the scrub radius so are simply unsuitable for FWD operation.