While many people assume that an electric F-150 would be difficult or impossible to construct in a way that is efficient and in keeping with the power of the best-selling truck line, thanks to the good people at Protean Electric, the F-150 has successfully gone electric.
Protean Electric is a company that custom modifies vehicles to include unique electric motors. This company has successfully converted a 2009 Ford F-150 to electric power, with no significant loss of power. Obviously, the changes made to the engine system, chassis and weight of the vehicle were significant.
Benefits of the Electric Motor
One of the primary benefits of using an electric motor over a standard motor is the excellent torque that the engine can deliver from zero rpm. Unlike internal combustion engines, electric motors can generate maximum torque at zero RPM’s. This insures that the motor can move the truck, even when there is significant weight in or behind the vehicle.
Additionally, electric motors are more environmentally friendly than standard engines. With the cost of gasoline rising considerably in recent years, they tend to be much less expensive, after the initial investment.
Changes Made to the F-150
Originally shown off at the 2008 SEMA show, the Protean Electric F-150 uses four distinct in-wheel electric motors built into the wheel wells. Each motor weighs under 75 pounds, making it a bit heavier than the standard engine components that would be set into the wheel. However, in an effort to counteract the so-called unsprung weight (weight that is hanging off the end of the suspension and which makes a vehicle difficult to maneuver), Protean Electric stripped off excess weight from other parts of the vehicle by performing steps like removing the standard
vehicle axle from the chassis, and replacing it instead with a hollow beam.
Another benefit of these in-wheel motors is that they are able to operate independently of each other. This also helps to counteract the handling difficulty posed by the excess unsprung weight.
Specs of the Electric F-150
The prototype electric F-150 that Protean Electric built maintains 368 foot-pounds of continuous torque in each of its four motors. However, the standard battery in the vehicle prohibits the motors from operating at full potential all of the time, so advances to the battery component of the vehicle are currently being investigated.
Test drivers agreed that the vehicle provided a quiet ride, but it was slightly bumpier than a standard F-150. The vehicle was generally easy to handle and had a very similar feeling to the standard F-150. In essence, this is the goal of Protean Electric and other companies that work to modify existing vehicles to include electric engines.
Since the 2009 F-150, Protean has tested out two new sets of motors and plans to unveil another generation of these in-wheel motors expected this summer. They hope to improve continuous output and overall efficiency by getting peak torque to 578 pounds-feet and 355 pounds-feet continuous. Potentially, this could provide a total maximum torque of 2300 foot-pounds! So tow that with your gas guzzling V-8!