Protean is best known for building compact and powerful electric motors that fit inside a vehicle’s wheels. It’s a fun concept that could, in theory, allow car designers to get really wild with styling and packaging choices that simply aren’t options with an internal combustion engine under the hood. This week, though, Protean unveiled a new concept that– well, it’s so good it just seems obvious. Meet 360+, an all-new take on suspension design that could allow big, bulky city buses to positively dance through densely packed, urban environments.

It’s super clever, and looks like this …


… which is to say that each corner of the bus’ suspension is its own, fully contained suspension system and drive train that allows the bus to practically turn on itself, drive sideways, and more. All handy things if you’re trying to pilot a massive, modern city bus down the cobblestone lanes of European cities that were designed for horses, you know?

Protean– which was recently acquired by the Chinese-owned and Swedish-based NEVS, who build the Saab Scania electric city bus— believes the 360+ concept will allow bigger buses to negotiate corners without stopping, which will make huge strides in reducing congestion and improving the efficiency of not just the buses, but the cars and bikes that have to navigate the buses on narrow city streets. It won’t just be easier on traffic, it’ll be easier on passengers, too: 360+ can also allow buses to “kneel”, providing easier access for wheelchairs and allowing less-abled passengers to step directly out into the curb.

Each in-wheel motor in the 360+ suspension system delivers 107 HP and an absolutely mega 922 pound-feet of torque, but it’s the increased agility the suspension layout gives the bus that gives it as much as 7% greater range than “conventional” electric buses.

And– be honest– isn’t it awesome that there are “conventional” electric buses out there, these days? I’m thrilled, and I hope that this Protean 360+ thing turns out to live up to its promise. What do you guys think? Is this design the real deal, or is it just a PR grab that will add cost without adding value and efficiency to the equation? Let us know, in the comments.


Source | Images: Protean, via Green Car Reports.