The Ford Fiesta E-Wheel Drive is powered by two electric motors that each produces a constant 33kW of power and up to 350Nm of torque. The motors are positioned inside the 16-inch rear wheel rims along with the power electronics, controllers, brakes and cooling systems, with each individual wheel hub drive system weighing 53kg.
Schaeffler chief technical officer Professor Peter Gutzmer said in-wheel drive systems would allow car makers to design future electric city cars with fewer restrictions.
“For electric vehicles used in urban environments, which may become obligatory in many densely populated areas, the wheel hub drive makes previously unheard of space savings possible,” Gutzmer said.
“In these new vehicle concepts, all components that are relevant for propulsion, braking, and driving safety are housed inside the wheel. The vehicle platform therefore provides maximum space for passengers, luggage, and for the battery, electronics, and communication systems. And vehicle manufacturers can use this as a basis for a range of different body designs.”
Ford Europe research and advanced engineering project manager Roger Graaf said the Fiesta E-Wheel Drive had performed impressively during cold-weather testing in Scandinavia.
“The test drives have shown clearly that the driving behaviour of this test vehicle in terms of comfort and safety has remained at virtually the same level, despite the higher wheel-sprung masses compared to the conventional basic vehicle,” Graaf said.
While Schaeffler is yet to sign a large-scale production partnership with a global auto maker, Gutzmer believes the manoeuvrability, driving dynamics, active safety and space saving advantages of wheel drive hubs will see them play a significant role in next-generation EVs.