Protean Electric is a developer of in-wheel electric drive systems. It is also one of the newest players in the Chinese electric car market, announcing recently its technology will be entering that global growing segment of green cars in “low-production volume” numbers sometime in 2014. The chosen vehicle of delivery for Protean looks to be the Brabus Electric Vehicle, which was first unveiled last year at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.
The unveiling of the Brabus EV, which is based on the Mercedes Benz E-Class, happened at an event also creating something called a “new energy vehicle industry park” that Protean early investor GSR Ventures helped to pull the Michigan-based electric vehicle tech start up into. The plunging in of Protean at this time to the developing Chinese market comes as some have raised questions about how viable that market actually is.
What the Protean in-wheel electric drive system is said to offer to vehicles it is equipped on includes fuel economy improvements up to 30 percent depending upon the vehicle’s battery size, specifications of 81 kW (110 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb.-ft. torque) in each motor, the ability to fit it into the space of a conventional 18-inch road wheel and excellent regenerative braking capabilities that reportedly grab up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy that could be recovered during braking to help extend the vehicle battery’s driving range.
The Brabus EV, with one Protean electric motor in each of its four wheels, offers up a rather impressive combined 320 kW (430 hp) and 3,200 Nm (2,350 ft.-lbs.) torque from pure electric power. When we learned of the vehicle last year for the first time, it was noted than it was capable of a top speed of almost 140 miles per hour and a range of around 220 miles.
Assuming the Protean-equipped Brabus EV is the one going into production in 2014, it first must go through prototype motor production, which likely will happen next year. If the car actually does see the light of day in China, it will be competing against more established automakers such as BYD and Roewe.