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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Protean partners with Dongfeng to power in-wheel motors in its electric cars

Protean has announced a new partnership between the Dongfeng Motor Corporation Technical Center and the Protean joint venture in China, Wuxi Weifu Electric Drive Technology (WFDT), whose objective is to promote the adoption by the market of its in-wheel motor technology. The deal will combine its implementation for passenger cars, light commercial vehicles and future transportation solutions with Weifu’s industrialized manufacturing capabilities and DFM’s expertise in distributed drive technology.

The British company Protean Electric, founded in 2008, accumulates more than 160 patents worldwide related to the ProteanDrive technology design, based on the location of the electric motors directly on the wheels of the vehicles. Protean motor provides torque and power directly to the wheels eliminating intermediate shafts and gearsbeing the set lighter and more efficient than conventional electric propulsion systems.

The motor, power electronics and control are packaged inside the wheel itself being able to produce high power and torque densities. These systems have so far been produced in low volume and have been targeted at manufacturers and supply companies for actual testing. Protean has developed and implemented in-wheel electric propulsion systems for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars battery powered. According to the company, its demonstration and test prototypes have already traveled more than two million kilometers mounted on vehicles powered by their engines.

Association Protean Dongfeng Electric Motors In Wheel-Inside
Exploded view of Protean in-wheel electric motors.

Protean and DFM they started collaborating in 2016. Last year, the ProteanDrive system fitted to DFM’s E70 4WD successfully completed winter testing. In 2018, Weifu Group led Protean’s Series E financing round to support the industrialization of ProteanDrive, which included the launch of the joint venture, WFDT, in China. “This partnership will accelerate the industrialization of ProteanDrive in DFM vehicle programs,” said Andrew Whitehead, CEO of Protean Electric. “We will continue to focus on technological innovation and product research and development, which will help DFM improve its own technology and broader market positioning with in-wheel motors,” he added.

The set incorporates inside the rim a permanent magnet synchronous motor and the power electronics that control it. An external specialist has collaborated in the fit between the wheel and the engine to maintain the engine’s regenerative braking system. The rotor of the electric motor is connected directly to the hub, that is, they deliver torque directly to the wheel, eliminating losses in power transfer. This direct drive configuration is reflected in the high-torque, low-speed design of the ProteanDrive.

In the design, the motor is not in direct contact with the rim, except at the point where the bearing sits. This ensures enough clearance so that even major damage to the wheel rim does not lead to engine damage.

World Nation News Desk
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