Protean Provides Fleet Owners with "Real-World" Solution to Fuel Economy and Emissions Challenges

INDIANAPOLIS - Industry research shows that about one in every 20 fleet vehicles will be a hybrid by 2015, due mostly to new fleet vehicle purchases. But in this era of extreme cost cutting, Protean Electric, the global leader in advanced in-wheel motors, is giving fleet owners another solution with Protean Drive(TM).

Protean Drive is an electric drive in-wheel motor system that can provide significant fuel economy and emissions improvements to existing vehicles already in the fleet. The technology is on display here this week in the CALSTART Clean Tech and Fuels Pavilion at the NTEA Work Truck Show, the largest event of its kind in North America.

"Rising operating costs, shrinking budgets and green mandates are hard to balance when your fleet still has a job to do every day," said Ken Stewart, vice president of Business Development at Protean Electric. "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."

Protean Drive 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.

Hybrids will reach 4.7 percent of light-duty fleet sales by 2015 according to, a Boulder, Co.-based market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. And, many commercial and government fleet managers are increasingly relying on hybrid electric vehicles to help protect their budgets from increasing fuel costs and reduce emissions from their fleets, the Pike report stated.

"With rising fuel prices, there is a growing interest in hybrid pick-up trucks from commercial fleets. Protean's in-wheel motor technology has the potential to save money over the life of the vehicle and reduce exposure to the volatile world oil market," said John Boesel, president and CEO, CALSTART.

Protean's in-wheel solution

Protean's in-wheel motors have the highest torque density of any of today's leading electric propulsion systems. Each Protean Drive in-wheel motor can deliver 81 kW (110 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb-ft), yet weighs only 31 kg (68 lbs.) and is sized to fit within the space of a conventional 18- to 24-inch road wheel. Protean Drive also has superior regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85 percent of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking.

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 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.

"The motors can be added to vehicles more simply, creating a hybrid or plug-in hybrid 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 vehicle," Stewart says.

About Protean:

Protean Electric ( is a leading clean technology company that designs, develops and manufactures the Protean Drive, a fully integrated, in-wheel motor, direct-drive solution. 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 is funded by Oak Investment Partners, a multistage venture capital firm and a lead investor in the next generation of enduring growth companies.


Protean Electric

CONTACT: Debbie Frakes, +1-248-444-0746,

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