China’s National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which also owns Saab, has purchased Protean Electric, a British technology company with expertise in in-wheel electric motor technology.
Protean Electric has been developing in-wheel electric motors since 2008 and currently has more than 160 patents globally for electric motor and power electronics design, control, and manufacturing. A statement released by NEVS asserts that the company’s in-wheel motors “offer improved powertrain efficiency and greater flexibility in vehicle design.”
NEVS intends on using Protean’s tech in future products, but the acquisition could prove to be even more important for Chinese real estate developer Evergrande, which holds a 51 per cent controlling stake in NEVS.
In late March, Evergrande Group chairman Hui Ka Yan said that, after establishing itself as China’s second-largest property developer, it is striving “to become the world’s biggest, and the strongest, electric vehicle group within three to five years.”
Evergrande recently became the majority investor in Swedish hypercar manufacturer Koenigsegg as well, and last year, purchased a 45 per cent stake in struggling electric car startup Faraday Future. With Protean Electric now on board, it claims it has now formed a “highly competent ‘New Energy Vehicle’ Group” and could use in-wheel electric motors for many of its future electric vehicles. It is possible that future products from Koenigsegg will use electric motor and battery technologies from within the group.
On a side note, vehicles with in-wheel electric motors have been around for more than a century, but they have yet to find their way into mass production in a road-going vehicle. Guess the Chinese conglomerate that’s hellbent on EV dominance will be the first to do so.