Protean Electric In-Wheel Technology to Help Transform Commercial Fleet Vehicles Already on the Road into Fuel-Saving Hybrids
BALTIMORE – An all-new hybrid retrofit market will emerge and grow to a half-million vehicles total by 2020, according to Protean Electric, which has developed an in-wheel motor electric drive system for light-duty vehicles.
Ken Stewart, Protean’s vice president of sales and marketing, will discuss the all-new hybrid market this week at the Hybrid, Electric and High Efficiency Truck Users Forum (HTUF) here. The forum (http://www.htuf2011.org) is sponsored by CALSTART in partnership with the U.S. Army National Automotive Center (NAC).
“Rising operating costs, shrinking budgets and green mandates are hard to balance when your fleet still has a job to do every day,” Stewart says. “The time is right for a system that can add the benefits of hybrid technology to light-duty vehicles that are already in service. Protean Electric’s system is a smarter and simpler way to improve fuel economy, add power and reduce emissions.”
The vast majority of this new hybrid retrofit market will come from converting light-duty government and commercial fleets. In fact, the total addressable vehicle market procured in the United States alone is estimated to be over 1.5 million vehicles, according to information from General Service Administration reports and Automotive Fleet Magazine.
Protean’s system can be easily integrated into a broad range of vehicles and can increase fuel economy by more than 30 percent depending on the size of the battery and the driving cycle. That means fleet owners can get the benefits of hybrid technology without having to buy all-new vehicles, engines or transmissions, or having to modify their engines to run on different fuels than what they are using today. Since these vehicles often have a lifecycle of two to six years beyond the lifecycle of a typical retail vehicle, system costs can be amortized over several years after the vehicle is already in service.
Protean’s in-wheel solution
Each Protean in-wheel motor produces up to 110 HP (81kW), occupies the unused space behind an 18-inch road wheel, and can be fitted to conventional rear axles. And because each motor has its own self-contained inverter controller, the system requires less space on board the vehicle for motor power electronics. Protean Drive™ systems have regenerative braking, and a redundant disk brake design is being developed to meet all necessary safety requirements.
Protean, along with battery companies and integrators, will help enable more widespread adoption of hybrid technology to convert fleet customers’ vehicles. The system offers advantages to front-, rear- or four-wheel drive vehicles that run on gas, diesel or gaseous fuels such as CNG. The motors also have the highest torque and power density compared to any of today’s leading electric propulsion systems.
The Protean system can even become a common system used for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle applications across a wide range of light-duty vehicles, all within the same fleet.
“Protean’s in-wheel motors are uniquely designed for a broad range of vehicle applications,” Stewart says. “The motors can be added to vehicles more simply, creating a hybrid or plug-in hybrid configuration from an existing conventional truck. It’s the closest thing to a ‘bolt-on’ hybrid system, and it will have broad appeal for fleets as the smart way to save fuel and lower emissions without having to give up performance or continually purchase all-new vehicles.”
Protean Electric (www.proteanelectric.com) is a leading clean technology company that designs, develops and manufactures the Protean Drive™, a fully integrated, in-wheel motor, direct-drive solution. Each motor has a built-in inverter, control electronics and software, delivering a practical way to electrify full-size vehicles with no compromise in performance. Protean Electric is strategically positioned to play a major role in the hybrid and electric vehicle market by offering a combination of packaging advantages, new vehicle design opportunities, performance benefits and cost savings. Protean Electric is based in the United States and the United Kingdom.
HTUF is a national, multi-year, user-driven program to speed the commercialization of medium- and heavy-duty hybrid and high-efficiency technologies. It is operated by CALSTART in partnership with and under contract to the U.S. Army National Automotive Center (NAC), with project support from the Hewlett Foundation and the Department of Energy. HTUF has been very successful in helping launch the first production of hybrid trucks and is credited with reducing product development time by up to two years.