Through-the-Road Parallel Hybrid Demonstrator Vehicle

Northampton (UK), September 2015 – MAHLE Powertrain and Protean Electric have collaborated to construct and develop a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) demonstrator to showcase the benefits of adopting in-wheel electric motors in a C-segment passenger car. The vehicle features Protean’s compact direct drive in-wheel motors with integrated inverters on the rear axle and retains the standard 1.4L gasoline engine, and manual transmission driving the front axle.

This ‘through the road’ parallel drive arrangement allows the vehicle to be operated in three distinct driving modes: 

  • Full electric rear wheel drive with zero tailpipe emissions
  • Conventional engine front wheel drive for highway use
  • Full hybrid all-wheel drive for maximum performance and traction

In addition to the fuel economy benefits of the full EV driving mode, the in-wheel motors also bring advantages in the areas of performance and handling. The immediate availability of tractive effort sharpens up the feel of the vehicle by improving the response to driver torque demand and the possibilities of advanced handling via torque vectoring are now open. Through incorporating the disc brake and associated power electronics, the in-wheel motors also provide an innovative packaging solution by fully utilizing the available space within, and around, the vehicle’s rear wheels.

MAHLE’s Flexible ECU (MFE) has been used as the main vehicle control unit (VCU) to achieve effective control of the two independent drive systems within the vehicle. In this application, the MFE provides four key functions simultaneously: system control, system safety, traction motor torque control and interface to the donor vehicle ECU (including CAN message modification). The MFE based VCU has been developed as a modular platform for all types of vehicle control applications, targeted at prototype vehicles. MAHLE were able to quickly configure the VCU to suit this application by using a library of pre-existing control elements developed for other hybrid vehicle applications.

In terms of economy and performance data, the NEDC fuel economy was reduced from 6.4 to 1.7 l/100km and the CO2 emissions from 149 to <40 g/km. The vehicle achieves an impressive 0-100 km/h time of less than 7.0 seconds (half that of the baseline vehicle) and top speed has also increased by more than 10%. In addition, the AWD capability of the dual drivetrain system enhances the dynamic behavior of the vehicle in both high and low grip road conditions.

 About MAHLE Powertrain

We provide a broad spectrum of skills and capabilities to our global customers. With expert knowledge and a detailed understanding of new technologies, MAHLE Powertrain supports the international automotive industry with optimized powertrain solutions to satisfy our customers’ requirements. Engine, transmission, hybrid, software, operating strategy. From one source.

With the conflicting objectives of increased power and torque with reduced fuel consumption and emissions, the need for advanced engine technologies has never been greater. The choice of vehicle power units is now much broader, with series and parallel hybrids, battery electric motor drives, and even fuel cell systems under intense development. MAHLE Powertrain provides our customers with a unique combination of support capabilities — access to the latest component and subsystem technologies from our parent company MAHLE, research and development of these technologies to create pioneering powertrain solutions, and the experience of taking these advanced drivetrains into production. Whatever your powertrain design, development, or manufacturing needs, MAHLE Powertrain can support you with cost-effective, tailored solutions.

 About Protean

Protean Electric is a leading clean technology company that designs, develops and manufactures 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, GSR Ventures and Jiangsu New Times Holding Group Co., Ltd. Protean Electric has operations in the United Kingdom, Shanghai, China and the United States.

 About MAHLE

As a leading global development partner for the automotive and engine industry, MAHLE offers unique systems competence in the areas of engine systems, filtration, electrics/mechatronics, and thermal management. In the original equipment industry, MAHLE provides technologically innovative solutions for automotive, commercial vehicle, machinery, and other industrial applications. The Aftermarket business unit also serves the independent parts market with MAHLE products in OE quality. MAHLE has a local presence in all major world markets. In 2014, some 66,000 employees at approximately 150 production locations generated sales of nearly ten billion euros. At ten major research and development centers in Germany, Great Britain, the USA, Brazil, Japan, China, and India, almost 5,000 development engineers and technicians are working on forward-looking concepts, products, and systems.


Further queries:

MAHLE Powertrain Ltd
Daren Mottershead
Sales & Marketing Manager
St. James Mill Rd
Phone: +44 1604 738226