Protean Electric, the global leader in the development and commercialization of in-wheel electric drive systems, 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. The Protean Electric drive system is probably as close as the industry will ever get to a bolt-on solution.”
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.
Protean has been awarded 21 patents for its unique 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 prestigious 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.
Protean Electric is a leading clean technology company that designs, develops and manufactures the Protean Drive™, a fully integrated, in-wheel motor, direct-drive solution. Protean Electric is strategically positioned to play a major role in the hybrid and electric vehicle market by offering a combination of packaging advantages, new vehicle design opportunities, performance benefits and cost savings. Protean is funded by Oak Investment Partners, a multistage venture capital firm and a lead investor in the next generation of enduring growth companies. Protean Electric has offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and Germany. For more information, visit www.proteanelectric.com.
About Oak Investment Partners:
Oak Investment Partners is a multi-stage venture capital firm and a lead investor in the next generation of enduring growth companies. Since 1978, the firm has invested $9 billion in nearly 500 companies around the world, earning the trust of entrepreneurs with a senior team that delivers steady guidance, deep domain expertise and a consistent investment philosophy. The firm’s five major growth sectors of focus are information technology, Internet and consumer, financial services technology, healthcare services and clean energy. For more information, visit www.oakvc.com.
About GSR Ventures:
GSR Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on building world-class technology companies in China. The firm invests primarily in the Internet, wireless, green technology and semiconductors sectors. Founded in 2004, GSR has more than 50 companies in its portfolio and more than $1 billion under management. Protean Electric is the 11th investment in energy-efficient companies for GSR. For more information, visit www.gsrventures.com.
About Jiangsu New Times Holding Group Co., Ltd.
Jiangsu New Times Holding Group was founded in December 2009 and is located in North Industrial Park within the Economic Development Zone of Liyang Municipality, Jiangsu Province. The company is mainly engaged in real estate and technology financing, as well as production and sales of a variety of copper products. Total sales revenue in 2011 is more than $1.6 billion, and will reach $2.4 billion in 2012.