UPDATE: Japanese R&D firm SIM-Drive earlier this week launched their second generation wheel motor powered prototype, the SIM-WIL. The car offers 220 Miles (352 km) of range from a 35 kWh battery, and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds. SIM-Drive are looking to get the final production model on sale in 2014.
The car is equipped with four Direct Drive 90 horsepower / 516 lb/ft (66 kW / 700 Nm) Outer Rotor BLDC PM Wheel Motors, one in each wheel, giving the vehicle a total 360 horsepower with 2064 lb/ft (260 kW / 2800 Nm) of torque from zero rpm. Direct Drive wheel motors eliminate the 20-30% energy loss typical of mechanical transmission systems.
The direct drive system not only increases drive energy efficiency but also a matching increase in brake energy regeneration efficiency which is maximized by the SIM-WIL being all wheel drive.
These drive and regeneration gains are why SIM-Drive vehicles boast approx double the range of more conventional EVs like the Nissan Leaf, using approx the same battery capacity, as they are able to use less energy to accelerate and are also able to maximze brake regeneration on deceleration.
Combined with low rolling resistance tires and super low aero drag body results in electrical power consumption during JC-08 tests of only 158 wh/mi (99 Wh/km) (SIM-LEI)compared to an already relatively frugal (compared to any ICE powered vehicle) Nissan LEAF which recorded 340 wh/mi (212 Wh/km) in EPA tests.