Improving Fuel Economy and So Much More: Protean Drive™

Friday, January 20, 2012

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Protean Electric created Protean Drive™, an in-wheel electric drive system, for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric light-duty vehicles. The system improves vehicle fuel economy, adds torque, increases power and enables improved vehicle handling. Protean Drive™ can increase fuel economy by over 30 percent, depending on the battery size and driving cycle. It is also powerful enough to be the only source for traction on a variety of vehicles. Its ease of integration simplifies the adoption of hybrid and electrified powertrains  across a broad range of vehicles.

What sets Protean apart?
Protean Drive™ is unique: It is not coupled to the powertrain, like most complex and expensive hybrid systems on the market today. Instead, it resides in the unoccupied space in the wheel, producing torque exactly where drivers need it. To create this distinctive design, Protean started with a clean sheet of paper and turned the motor inside out. The unique and patented design has the rotor on the outside; the stator is on the inside. This architecture is tailored for the low-speed, high-torque requirements of a direct-drive, in-wheel motor. The design frees up space inside the motors. In the Protean Drive™ design, this space is utilized to house the inverters/power electronics. The system features eight sub-motors/micro-inverters, which give a greater level of redundancy than any existing system. These motors can be optimized to make the drivetrain as efficient as possible.
Who are Protean’s customers?
Protean Drive™ is targeted at new, full-sized light-duty vehicles including sedans, SUVs, pick-up trucks and commercial vans, but the system can be added to existing vehicles. Protean’s primary customers are OEMs, large fleets and major component suppliers globally. Six OEMs have already conducted demonstration vehicle programs.
How has Protean evolved and what’s next?
From its conception in 2009, Protean’s only focus was on in-wheel motors for vehicles. In 2011, Protean took their technology around the world, from Baltimore to  Beijing to Frankfurt. Protean was named “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum. Partnering with BRABUS, two demonstration vehicles were created:  BRABUS Hybrid and BRABUS Full-Electric. In 2012, Protean will move to on-road test fleets and low-volume manufacturing. Discussions with OEMs and fleet companies will move Protean into commercial activity as well.


For more information, contact Ken Stewart, VP, Business Development, 248-764-3841.