Is an electric-powered F-150 the answer to the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius? PML Flightlink is bringing a radical F-150 to SEMA with four Hi-Pa printed armature -- or pancake -- electric motors mounted in each of the truck's wheels and a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
According to Flightlink's website, the motors are "ironless discs with coils punched from sheet copper and formed onto non-magnetic disc insulators. Brushes short across two or more points to create a path through the copper to create a magnetic field which interacts with the permanent magnets to create motion." Unlike a conventional motor, maximum torque is available down to zero RPM, directly proportional to voltage.
Hub-mounted electric motors can reduce weight and complexity from a vehicle by eliminating the need for a transmission, driveshaft, differential and axle shafts. Variable gear changes can be done within the motors.
Ford has a history of partnering with third parties to build some of the wildest SEMA trucks imaginable. Last year, DeBerti's axleless front-wheel-drive F-450 showed how low you could go. In 2006, DeBerti's six-door F-650 packed plenty of six appeal. And in 2002, TRENZ Ultimate Mountain Climber stopped attendees in their tracks.
This isn't the first time Ford has partnered with PML Flightlink to demonstrate pancake wheel-mounted engine technology. The Volvo ReCharge concept at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show was a C30 compact car with a similar drivetrain setup.