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In-wheel motors out-gun Fordís 320hp V8 engine

15 October, 2008

The British pancake motors specialist PML Flightlink has teamed up with Ford to build an electric version of the world’s best-selling pickup truck, the Ford F-150, which is powered by four wheel-hub motors. The 30kg motors together produce more than 600hp (450kW) and deliver more power and torque than the truck’s original 320hp, 5.4 litre V8 engine.

To create the running prototype truck, the original engine, drivetrain, gearbox, exhaust and differential have been removed, leaving space for a 40kW battery under the chassis which can propel the vehicle for 160km on one charge. If the truck was configured as a plug-in series hybrid, PML estimates that it could achieve more than 100 mpg (2.8 l/100km), expanding its range on a small tank of fuel by up to ten times.

Each of the Hi-Pa Drive in-wheel motors delivers more than 200Nm of torque at any speed, and recaptures the braking energy. Each wheel can be controlled independently to provide true four-wheel drive, or they can be co-ordinated.

Ford is the latest car-maker to work with Hampshire-based PML. The company has already supplied in-wheel motors to Volvo for use in its ReCharge concept vehicle, and is working with the Peterborough-based Lightning Car Company to develop an electric supercar that will reach 96km/h in four seconds.

PML has also repackaged some of the Hi-Pa drive technology into a simpler, cheaper product called the Nano Wheel, that delivers up to 10Nm of torque. The 12V motor, costing a few tens of pounds, is already being used in a motorised suitcase and a golf trolley.   

The one-piece, injection-moulded Nano Wheel includes its suspension and controls. It offers to option of “full torque” control, which responds to the input from a force sensor. This can be used, for example, to boost the torque available when going up a hill.  The brushless wheel-motors have minimal wearing parts and no noisy, efficiency-sapping gearboxes.

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