In-Wheel Motor Manufacturer Protean Electric Secures $40 Million Funding

JUN 24 2018 BY MARK KANE 8

Protean Electric, known for its in-wheel electric motors for various kind of vehicles, announced the completion of a $40 million equity investment as the initial closing of its Series E funding round.

FORD F150 with Protean Electric motors from 2013

The round was led by Weifu High-Technology Group CO., one of the biggest parts suppliers in China, and Oak Investment Partners.

With the new funding, Protean Electric will form a joint venture with Weifu in China and try to commercialize the ProteanDrive Pd18 motors at a bigger scale.

We rarely see electric cars with in-wheel motors, but in the case of heavy-duty vehicles like buses, manufacturers sometimes prefer in-wheel motors. Protean Electric has been trying to gain market share for years without much luck, but we have seen demonstration cars with Protean’s in-wheel motors, including a Ford F150.

The company is currently present in the United Kingdom, China and the USA, while the production facility is located in Tianjin, China.

Protean-equipped Vauxhall Vivaro

“The Series E financing proceeds will support Protean’s on-going business activities and help to establish a global licensing model covering all key markets.  Weifu have further invested in the relationship by agreeing to form a Joint Venture in China for the manufacture of ProteanDrive Pd18.A technology center will be set up within the Joint Venture to focus on customer application engineering and manufacturing process engineering.  Under the leadership of Protean’s technology center in England, the Joint Venture will support product development and continuous engineering of in-wheel motor products.”

“Using a scalable and patented sub-motor architecture, the current Pd18 product, designed to fit inside an 18” wheel rim, provides the power and torque required to propel hybrid and electric vehicles from C-segment all the way to light commercial categories.”

Protean Electric ProteanDrive Pd18

Kwok-Yin Chan, CEO of Protean Electric said:

“This investment supports Protean Electric’s position as the world leader of in-wheel motor technology and eDrive systems.  As we win more customer projects, our investors are convinced our technology offers tangible vehicle level benefits.The relationship with Weifu also provides great support for the industrialization of ProteanDrive, allowing us to focus on our technology and software to deliver enhanced vehicle functionality such as augmented ABS, torque vectoring, and control of the digital corner.”

Xuejun Chen, Chairman of Weifu commented:

We believe Protean Electric’s in-wheel motor technology will have a transformative impact on the industry and all vehicle users.  Protean’s wheel motors allow designers to develop vehicles focused 100% on client need, with more space, lower floors, greater comfort and even vehicles you can walk into that will travel and park sideways. We are pleased to support Protean as a strategic partner.”

Bandel Carano, Managing Partner at Oak Investment Partners said:

“Protean’s patented technology and development of ProteanDrive in-wheel motor products is creating tremendous interest.  As the world accelerates digital transformation and vehicles become more autonomous, a smart, stand-alone drive solution that includes integrated power electronics, digital control, embedded autonomous EV sensors and friction brake is set to change how we view and experience transportation.”

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8 Comments on "In-Wheel Motor Manufacturer Protean Electric Secures $40 Million Funding"

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Imagine the packaging possibilities of in-wheel electric motors and skateboard chassis/battery architecture!
Hope this works well and more companies adopt it.

This seems like such an elegant way to do it. Is it the unsprung weight penalty, or vibration and subsequent wear to which the motor is exposed, or greater exposure to moisture, or combination thereof that is limiting?

The idea has been around for decades ( https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2013/08/15/cars-of-futures-past-1901-lohner-porsche-semper-vivus-and-mixte/ ) and is somewhat of a holy grail for EVs. So far the successes have been in light duty devices, i.e., scooters, bicycles. If the march of EV technology follows the historic electronic trends, the motors, control electrics and batteries, etc., will grow smaller and lighter as they get more powerful and efficient; which will hopefully help make hub motors ubiquitous.

Wheel motors have also been successful in heavy industrial equipment for a long time. Most large mining truck have wheel motors. GE pioneered that in the late 50’s as a spin off from EMD diesel-electric locomotive products (the original hybrid!). Some large aircraft tugs also have Electric wheel motors. There are probably numerous other industrial examples.

There is very little that is actually “new” in electric traction, with the exception of the lithium battery which suddenly made electric cars more practical.

The problem seems to be costs, we don’t know how much either cost model but you’re probably going to want them in pairs, 2 for 2WD and 4 for AWD…It just seems every automaker has punted on the idea…

This will be ideal for mass conversion of old ICE vehicle to EV. Imagine a national conversion chain that will convert your old 2006 Honda Civic to EV for $9,999.99 and they’ll do it in a day… I would do it in a heartbeat

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

$9,999,999 mod for an $18K car?………..LMAO

Best bang for the buck would be that kit on a Pickup or medium sized SUV.

But they need to have a mas market product first!!!!!

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I’ve watched this company for years. They need to get an affordable product out to market for Mass EV’s. It’s almost like VW story with their announcements of blah blah blah……… but nothing to show for it.

Put up/out or shut up Protean!!!!