Future engines will pack up to 150 kW and 1 700 Nm into the hub of an 18-inch wheel to drive cars, SUVs or bakkies.
Huge interest in hub motors
LOVERS of cars designed with long hoods in which to hide engines will soon be able to use all that wasted space as a second boot, as we did in rear-engined cars like the Porsche and VW Beetle.
For after a group of Swiss students’ little electric car last month recorded a 0 to 100 km acceleration in 1,513 seconds over a distance of less than 30 metres on four hub-wheels, there is a lot of interest in these bolt-on rolling engines.
And with governments around the world now either subsidising zero emission, banning diesel or legislating engines that achieve at least 5 l/100 km, there is also a huge market for hub-wheels, with China alone looking to equip five million new energy vehicles by 2020.
Michelin is just one of the wheel makers that hope to supply to this market, with a hubwheel motor that it first launched as far back as 2010, but it will be blasted out of the water by Protean Electric, the company that is set to become the world’s largest supplier of hub-wheel motors for cars, sport utility vehicles and bakkies.
Protean last week received $70 million in funding to make a range of in-wheel motors at a new plant in Tianjin in China.
While Protean’s in-wheel current motor is not nearly as strong as the 150 kW and 1 700 Nm hub wheels that powered the Grimsel, it does make half this power, converting the electricity directly into power and eliminating the energy waste in power transmission.
Suitable for both passenger and commercial vehicles, Protean motors do not use side shafts or differentials, which can boost an electrified vehicle’s energy efficiency by up to 15% compared to a centralised motor in an electric power train.
Protean Electric designs, develops and manufactures Protean Drive in-wheel motors, a fully integrated in-wheel drive solution.
Using a scalable and patented sub-motor architecture, and designed to fit inside an 18-inch wheel rim, Protean’s current PD18 product provides the power and torque required to propel hybrid and electric vehicles from C-segment all the way to light commercial categories.
Features of Protean’s inwheel motors include: • 75 kW peak power; • the highest torque density of any of today’s leading electric drive systems; • a mass of only 34 kg per motor; • power and control electronics packaged inside the motor; • superior regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85% of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking; and • it fits within a conventional 18-inch road wheel.
Protean said its in-wheel motors and accompanying proprietary technology meet all the market needs listed above.
The Grimsel electric car that went from standstill to 100 km/h in 1,5 seconds using four hub-wheel motors, each making 150 kW and 1 700 Nm.