Feature

Protean Electric in-wheel motors rolling toward production

  • Protean Electric

     (Protean Electric)

  • Protean Electric

     (Protean Electric)

  • Protean Electric

     (Protean Electric)

A new set of wheels is on the way.

Protean Electric has teamed up with a major automobile manufacturer to develop its novel in-wheel electric motor technology, with the intent of using it in a production car.

The Michigan-based company is working with FAW-Volkswagen, a Chinese automaker part-owned by VW Group, to integrate the system into a battery-powered Bora sedan demonstration vehicle.

Based on the last-generation VW Jetta, FAW-VW has been working for a couple of years on an all-electric version of the car using more conventional electric-drive technology. But now it is re-engineering it with Protean to incorporate its in-wheel motors.

Protean says that installing its motors directly at the wheel eliminates the need for driveshafts and [SB1] other components, while offering better control of the power delivery to each wheel.  The design also incorporates all of the electronics required to operate them, so they don’t require a separate unit located somewhere else in the vehicle, as all electric cars currently use.

The Bora is being developed as a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with one motor at each wheel. The Protean motors feature an inside-out design, with the stator on the inside and rotor on the outside, and are bolted directly to the wheels, where they deliver 100 hp and 739 lb-ft of torque each, the latter as much as the twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 in a Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG. Each motor should cost about $1,500 when series production begins.

However, Protean Vice President of Business Development Ken Stewart notes that while they plan to have a working prototype on the road in 2014, a production vehicle for FAW-VW is likely still several years down the road.

The company is also in talks with several other automakers through its offices in the U.S., China and the U.K.

Gary Gastelu is FoxNews.com's Automotive Editor.