Protean Holdings Corp. has named Bob Purcell, a former General Motors Co. powertrain executive, as its chairman and CEO. Purcell takes over the position left by Craig Knight who becomes president of Protean Americas and executive vice president of global business development.
It was in 2008 that Purcell retired from GM Powertran where he served as vice president for global sales planning and strategic alliances. From 1994 to 2002, Purcell was the head of GM's Advanced Technology Vehicles unit, which developed the EV-1 electric vehicle.
Purcell also served as chairman of the GM-Ovonic advanced battery joint venture. Since retiring, the 58-year-old had been a board member and adviser to Protean, a fledgling developer of in-wheel electric drive systems.
Protean is currently running test vehicle programs with Millbrook Vauxhall for a hybrid Vivaro van, with Brabus for a battery-electric Mercedes-Benz E class and with Volkswagen AG for a rear-wheel electric braking system on the Polo.
In a recent interview, Purcell said that Protean is aiming for production-vehicle programs. He revealed that Protean has been meeting with several manufacturers, automakers, and commercial-vehicle makers.
He explained that since in-wheel-drive systems hold both the power source and electric controls in the wheels, they can function as “bolt-on” systems that permit carmakers to convert existing vehicles to electric power.