Protean Electric stuffs an entire powertrain into your wheels

You know that big noisy thing at the front of your car? If Protean Electric has its way, all of that stuff is going to get crammed into your wheels, freeing up lots of weight and enough space for a small hot tub (or anything else). It's the future, man!

Protean's electric motors are entirely integrated into a car's wheels. "Entirely integrated" means that the engine, transmission, drive shafts, differential, regenerative braking system, and all the rest of that random crap that festoons the belly of your car is all somehow shoehorned into the wheels themselves, without actually increasing their size. The only other thing that you need to have a fully operational car is a battery somewhere, but all of a sudden you've got a bunch of space at the front of your car to put it.

When installed, the wheel motors are basically indistinguishable from regular wheels, as you can see from the F-150 in the pic above. The complete systems only weigh about 70 pounds each, but they output 110 horsepower per wheel, meaning that for a car, you're looking at 0-60 in under five seconds with a top speed of 130+ mph.

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The appeal of the Protean motors isn't just about making electric cars simpler and more spacious. Since the motors can basically be stuck onto any existing car just by swapping out the wheels, you can put them on existing gas powered cars, toss some batteries in the trunk, and you've got an insta-hybrid.

For the moment, Protean is only offering their motors to "qualified partners," so you can't just run out and by yourself a set. At some point in the future, though, if you want to buy a hybrid but just can't bear to part with your 1994 Volvo wagon (just to pick one random example), in-wheel motors could be a way to make that happen.

Protean, via Autoblog