At the 2012 SAE World Congress going on in Detroit, Protean Electric is showcasing a technology demonstrator based on a Mercedes-Benz E-Class with a 2.2L turbodiesel. What’s interesting is that this car is a hybrid.
Most people think of Brabus for its up-fitting to make luxury cars even more luxurious (not to mention speedy). In this case, Brabus is instead helping Protean show off a hybrid system which adds the motor to the wheels, simplifying the upgrade process from standard to hybrid.
Electric motors are mounted in the rear wheels of the car. The trick was, surprisingly, not adding the motors, but getting them to synchronize with the transmission (a standard/manual) so they wouldn’t work against one another.
Adding the motors put another 220 horsepower into the drive train at the rear and Brabus put effort into integrating them into the drive-by-wire system and in tuning the rear suspension to minimize the problems that the unsprung weight of the motors adds to handling.
In the end, it’s not spectacular, but it’s a good start. The motors act as both power boosters (bumping the Benz up to 7.4 seconds for its 0-60 time) and regenerative brakes to save both real brakes and create power for themselves.
Next-generation plans for the upfit from Protean include adding batteries to the mix, get more control on the powertrain (thus improving performance) and have an all-electric mode, possibly with plug-in capability.
Should be interesting.