Tech Tuesday is an ongoing series profiling the Forum’s Technology Pioneers. The Tech Pioneers are companies that have been recognized by the Forum for groundbreaking and innovative approaches in tackling some of the world’s most wicked problems. Each week we will showcase some of the 2012 Tech Pioneers. You can learn more about the Technology Pioneer Programme on the Forum’s website.

Protean Electric puts its motors in the wheels of electric cars

Standard automobile design puts the motor either in front or back. Protean Electric’s innovative approach is to replace the bulky conventional engine with smaller electric motors in each of the vehicle’s wheels. The company’s Protean Drive in-wheel electric drive system not only saves an enormous amount of interior space and weight, but it also reduces the strain on the engine by relying on each of the smaller motors to provide a portion of the torque required for acceleration. The design can easily be adapted as a hybrid extension to more conventional engines. Hybrid vehicles relying on Protean’s in-wheel drive system can rely on rechargeable batteries for short distance driving and can also cover longer distances if needed. When breaking the vehicle, the energy is used to recharge the batteries.

Protean Electric’s drive systems have already been adapted to a Volvo Recharge sedan and to the popular Ford F-150 pickup truck, which is able to achieve speeds up to 100 miles an hour using the electric drive system and can cover 100 miles or more, depending on the batteries used. Depending on the need for power, Protean’s drive system can be installed in two or four of the vehicle’s wheels. The key to making it work is Protean’s central electronic control unit, which uses advanced software. Protean is currently working with a number of major vehicle manufacturers and is meeting all international safety standards. When scaled up for production, its revolutionary technology may have helped define the car of the future.

Protean Electric Inc.
Robert Purcell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Location: MI, USA
Number of Employees: 85
Year Founded: 2009

Protean Electric Inc.
100 West Big Beaver Road, Suite 200
Troy, MI 48084

Telephone: +1 248 740 5580