Protean Electric Gains $84M to Create Chinese Production Sites

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TROY — Protean Electric, the global leader in the development and commercialization of in-wheel electric drive systems, Monday announced $84 million in new funding from GSR Ventures, New Times Group, Oak Investment Partners and the city of Liyang, Jiangsu Province, China 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.

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 total over 100 million automobiles.

“There’s tremendous interest around the world in adopting Protean’s in-wheel electric drive systems, which enable breakthrough cost and performance advantages, including high power and torque directly to the wheel as well as integrated power electronics and unparalleled regenerative braking efficiency,” said Bandel Carano, managing partner at Oak Investment Partners. “China, in particular, presents a compelling near-term opportunity as it seeks to reduce its reliance on petroleum imports. In mature markets, such as North America and Europe, I believe Protean’s electric drive system will be embraced as one solution to help these countries address fuel economy and emissions challenges.”

Features of Protean’s in-wheel motors include:

  • Fuel economy improvements up to 30 percent depending on battery size
  • Highest torque density of any of today’s leading electric propulsion systems
  • 81 kW (110 hp) and 800 Nm (590 lb.-ft. torque) in each motor
  • Weight of only 31 kg (68 lbs.) per motor
  • Fits within the space of a conventional 18- to 24-inch road wheel
  • Superior regenerative braking capabilities, which allow up to 85 percent 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

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