Protean Electric today announced $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 breakthrough 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," said 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.
"Liyang is becoming a well-known location for companies at the forefront of cutting-edge technology, especially in new energy, and we are very pleased to welcome Protean Electric to our city to manufacture their in-wheel electric drive system," said Liyang Mayor Su Jianghua.
"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."
"With this round of investment in place, Protean Electric is now positioned to move aggressively to production and into the market," said Bob Purcell, chairman and CEO of Protean Holdings Corp. "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."
Protean's In-wheel Electric-drive Solution
"We have a very unique value proposition: We can create hybrid and electric drive vehicle options, on the vehicles that people like to drive," Purcell said. "We can provide more power, better fuel economy, easier integration, and lower cost."
Features of Protean's in-wheel motors include:
Protean Electric's plans in China call for beginning prototype motor production early next year and volume production in 2014.
Protean has developed multiple demonstration vehicles, including a Ford F150 pick-up truck (see video above), 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.