What you’re not expecting, we’ll bet, is an ordinary-looking Mercedes-Benz E Class sedan, built by Brabus to use Protean Drive in-wheel electric motors.
Dubbed the “Technology Project Hybrid,” the car combines a 2.2-liter clean diesel engine with two in-wheel motors, each producing 110 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The package gives the car the ability to run from 0-62 mph in 7.4 seconds, or from 37-75 mph in 5.6 seconds.
Protean Electric claims that its in-wheel motors can boost fuel economy by as much as 30 percent in applications like the Technology Project Hybrid, although Brabus isn’t giving details on fuel economy gains. Also missing are details such as battery pack size and the added weight of the conversion.
In the words of Protean CEO Bob Purcell, “We’re pleased to work with Brabus to demonstrate what Protean’s in-wheel electric drive can deliver to the world. Our in-wheel motors not only provide significant performance improvement, but do so in a very responsible way.”
Could in-wheel electric motors be the new tuner craze? We suppose that depends on how badly performance gains are compromised by added unsprung weight. We'll reserve judgement until we have the chance to drive cars with and without in-wheel motors back-to-back.