Wheel hub motor as turbo of the future

If the Saab fans look north, then they have mostly been sad or worried in recent years. Since NEVS has been in charge at Göta Älv, they have been waiting in vain for the innovations for which Saab was once known. That could change now, because for the first time since the Saab estate was taken over, something remarkable is happening in Sweden.

NEVS relies on wheel hub motors
NEVS relies on wheel hub motors. Photo: NEVS

On the 30. Mai takes over a NEVS subsidiary for an undisclosed purchase price Protean Electric, The British manufacturer, founded 2008, is one of the most important developers of wheel-hub motors (in-wheel-technology), which is predicted a great future. The wheel hub engine should be something like the turbo electromobility.

A dream of generations comes true

Hub motors are not news in themselves. They represent an old dream of car developers, and even Ferdinand Porsche dealt with this topic once. He equipped his in year 1900 Lohner Porsche with steerable wheel hub motors. However, his idea at the time was not yet feasible. Too big and too heavy were the engines. Their susceptibility to penetrating moisture and dirt left them with the rest.

What fascinated generations before us is now becoming a reality. The installation directly in the wheels will give designers new freedom in the design of vehicles and revolutionize the driving characteristics. In addition, the light drives - a wheel hub motor from Protean weighs between 28 - 36 kg, depending on the type - are highly efficient. Many variations, such as a separate control of each individual wheel via the steering, are conceivable and can open up new horizons in terms of driving dynamics.

The old problem of the wheel hub motors, a high weight and susceptibility to environmental influences, is now considered solved. Although the cost of a vehicle with 4 individually driven wheels is still slightly higher than with a conventional arrangement of the drive. But he should be at least partially compensated by saving other components. In addition, with the entry into the mass production, as always with electronic components, one falls on falling prices.

Protean has two engines in its range. The more powerful “PD18” engine delivers a whopping 1.250 Nm and 80 KW as peak power. A system output of 4 KW is possible with 320 motors. The engines are suitable for use in passenger cars as well as for light commercial vehicles up to 4.5 tons.

Now everything is going very fast

However, the wheel hub motor is not a unique selling point for NEVS. The first electric car with “in-wheel technology” is made by the GAC Group produced in China. Your subbrand Aion is focusing on a Japanese development with the “S”.

Nidec in-wheel engine
Nidec in-wheel engine. Photo: Nidec

Because in Japan, strong competition is working on the same solution. The name Nidec may be a term for IT affine readers, the public can do little with it. At the same time, the company is a big name in the electronics world. Almost every person has, without realizing it, already worked with a Nidec component. The engines of the Japanese pioneers found themselves in early times in disk drives, today especially in fans and hard drives. Nidec has a long history of manufacturing high-speed electric motors and strives for nothing less than global market leadership in the automotive business.

Only in March did the Japanese make their new Prototypes a hub motor before. Already for May, the series production was announced. He is to power the Aion S, a compact sedan with a specified range of 510 kilometers. The Aion S uses batteries from the former NEVS partner CATL. The Nidec electric motor is said to weigh only 32 kilograms and bring 100 KW performance.

The competition puts pressure

The investment in Protean Electric brings a new perspective to the development of Göta Älv. Sporty, technically interesting solutions are possible. A comeback for Trollhattan? It is possible. What matters most now is the speed. From the Aion S, the GAC Group announces, 200.000 electric cars are to be produced each year. And competitor Nidec has already announced a partnership for its wheel hub motors with the PSA Group. The wheel hub engine is on the rise. The dream of generations of developers becomes reality.

7 thoughts on "Wheel hub motor as turbo of the future"

  • blank

    Making the hub of the engine is fine, now make it the brakes as well (or at the I missing something).

    • blank

      Not sure, but I guess it's meant to be this way.

    • blank

      Maybe I said this the wrong way, like this:

      Making the hub is the engine, now make the engine (hub) the brain as well (or at the I missing something).

      = The engine does not only propel the vehicle in motion, but also acts as the stopping power as well as doing away with conventional brakes [discs, pads, etc].

      • blank

        No, you didn't say it wrong. That's exactly how I understood your first comment already and you are right ...

        Electric motors are perfectly capable of serving as brakes, can stop and even be reversed in no time. 1920s or early 30s (historic footage can be found on YouTube) that already did the very same thing. This plan is needed next to runway for landings.

  • blank


    I find the torque of the system even more impressive than the 4 x 80 KW ...
    I do not understand why 320 KW and 5.000 Nm should only be good for vehicles up to 4.5 tons (semi-trailers have about half the maximum torque), but that such an AWD system for passenger cars opens up new horizons in terms of driving dynamics and also has a different design and new concepts makes it immediately obvious to me. Very, very exciting ...

    Thanks Tom, for this info.

  • blank

    Hope it comes through these kinds of developments back to life at Göta Älv!

  • blank

    Really amazing, NEVS can also be progressive? Is this really still the company that has not been regulated for years? I'm curious how it goes.

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