In-wheel electric drive company Protean receives $84M in funding; to build production plant in China
Protean Electric, developer of in-wheel electric drive systems (earlier post), received $84 million in new funding from GSR Ventures, New Times Group, Oak Investment Partners and the city of Liyang, Jiangsu Province, China. This capital will be used to bring Protean’s electric drive technology to production by establishing manufacturing facilities in Liyang.
The funding is led by GSR Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Beijing and Silicon Valley. They will be joined by the New Times Group, a Liyang-based industrial group. Oak Investment Partners, Protean’s first venture investor, is also participating in this round of funding. The city of Liyang is partnering to provide prototype manufacturing support, with favorable industrial policy.
GSR is honored to lead this round of investment in a disruptive technology that we believe has great promise for the Chinese automotive market and potentially building a global EV platform.—Sonny Wu, GSR Ventures managing director
This marks Protean Electric’s entry into China, the world's largest automobile market. In 2011, China automobile sales exceeded 18.5 million units. Passenger car sales climbed to about 14.5 million units; commercial vehicle sales exceeded 4 million units. Total vehicle registrations in China today total over 100 million automobiles.
The Chinese government just published a plan through 2020 to accelerate the production and adoption of new energy vehicles, including electric drive vehicles. (Earlier post.)
With this round of investment in place, Protean Electric is now positioned to move aggressively to production and into the market. All of our investors believe in our technology and share in our vision to make Protean Electric the world leader for in-wheel electric drive. We will have the capability to directly supply our motors at lower volume levels, while providing licenses to our higher volume customers and partners.
We have a very unique value proposition: We can create hybrid and electric drive vehicle options, on the vehicles that people like to drive. We can provide more power, better fuel economy, easier integration, and lower cost. The Protean Electric drive system is probably as close as the industry will ever get to a bolt-on solution.—Bob Purcell, chairman and CEO of Protean Holdings Corp.
Features of Protean’s in-wheel motors include:
- Fuel economy improvements up to 30% depending on battery size;
- Highest torque density of any of today’s leading electric propulsion systems;
- 81 kW (110 hp) and 800 N·m (590 lb-ft) from each motor;
- 31 kg (68 lbs) per motor;
- Fits within the space of a conventional 18- to 24-inch road wheel; and
- Regenerative braking capabilities allowing up to 85% of the available kinetic energy to be recovered during braking.
Protean Electric’s plans in China call for beginning prototype motor production early next year and volume production in 2014.
Protean has been awarded 21 patents for its technology and design, and more than 70 additional patent applications have been filed internationally and with specific countries in North America, Europe and Asia. Protean also has won the 2012 Technology Pioneers Award from the World Economic Forum as being one of most promising start-up technology companies in the world.
In addition, Protean has developed multiple demonstration vehicles, including a Ford F150 pick-up truck, Volvo C30, Vauxhall Vivaro cargo van, Guangzhou Automobile Company Trumpchi, and BRABUS full electric and hybrid vehicles, based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and were featured at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.