Ford eWheelDrive 01

Ford and its technology partner, German-based automotive component manufacturer and supplier Schaeffler, have unveiled a Fiesta-based eWheelDrive research car, which is powered by independent electric motors in both rear wheels.

The integrated wheel-hub drive in the test bed demonstrates the potential of saving space by freeing up acreage under the bonnet that would otherwise be taken up by a central motor in an EV, and in a conventional car, by an engine and transmission and replace them with more space for features such as additional protection zones.

With in-wheel motors, the components required for drive, deceleration and driver assistance technologies are installed in an integrated wheel hub drive, including the electric motor, braking and cooling systems.

Ford Schaeffler eWheelDrive

Space-saving benefits could in the future support development of smaller, more agile cars optimised for urban areas, for example a four-person car sized like a two-occupant vehicle of today. Steering system designs could also evolve and enable vehicles to move sideways into parking spaces, a potential breakthrough as cities become more populated.

Ford will next partner with Schaeffler, Continental, RWTH Aachen and the University of Applied Sciences, Regensburg, on project MEHREN (Multimotor Electric Vehicle with Highest Room and Energy Efficiency) to develop two new driveable vehicles by 2015.

The project aims to increase the integration of in-wheel motors in a vehicle and will also explore areas such as vehicle dynamics control, braking, stability and the fun-to-drive factor in greater detail.