ZAP Reinvents the Wheel

We’ve reported before on US electric car maker ZAP’s soon-to-be launch of their crossover SUV, the ZAP-X powered by an electric motor in each of its four wheels and built by Lotus.

Well, the latest good news is, the company has signed a deal with UK-based PML FlightLink to supply the wheel motor technology, which PML has already successfully showcased in a BMW Mini Cooper. This move brings the ZAP-X closer, though there is still no news on its official launch date.
Still, Steve Schneider, ZAP’s CEO says PML's wheel motor will allow the new vehicle to reach a top speed of 155mph, accelerate from 0-60 in 4.8 seconds, and produce peak power of 644 horsepower, which is massive.

While nothing much has been revealed yet about the battery storage system (and here at Treehugger we have asked...but so far no answer...), the $10million deal with PML definitely brings the car closer to reality.

"Wheel motors are revolutionizing electric transportation, from our ZAPPY3 electric scooters all the way up to more ambitious projects like the ZAP-X crossover," says Schneider. "We have witnessed the PML wheel motor technology in action and, without question, this is the best drive system in the world."

Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he, but Schneider is right on the money in saying that wheel motors allow automotive designers to achieve greater efficiencies because the weight and displacement of the drive train is sent to all four corners of the vehicle. In theory this gives excellent handling characteristics – so the ZAP-X should be very safe to drive.

PML’s wheel motors rely on regenerative braking to charge the batteries as the car is being driven – or more correctly as it’s being braked it generates power.

"We've sort of reinvented the wheel," said Chris Newman of PML FlightLink. The small British electrical-engineering company led by Martin Boughtwood, PML's director, has more than 30 years experience in wheel motor and control system development.

According to PML, its compact electric wheel motors produce unrivalled levels of torque with internal heavy-duty tapered roller bearings that can withstand heavy radial loads for robust use, important for the all-wheel drive capability of the ZAP-X.

PML's Hi-Pa Drive(TM) motor wheel technology provides integrated motor and drive electronics in one unit and it also has several levels of redundancy so any single failure should not prevent the vehicle from operating safely.