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In-wheel motor production gets going in China

23 May, 2016

Protean Electric, which develops in-wheel electric drive systems for vehicles, is to start manufacturing its motors in Tianjin, China, during the second half of 2016, and to build a factory on a permanent site by the end of 2017. The in-wheel motor technology incorporates power and control electronics, and is claimed to increase fuel economy by up to 30%. Protean has an engineering base in the UK, as well as US and Chinese operations.

The new manufacturing operation is being set up in China’s Tianjin Binhai Hi-Tech Industrial Development Area (THT) which promotes potential “billion-dollar businesses” industries based on new energy vehicles, renewable energy, advanced IT, and high-end manufacturing equipment.

“Protean's in-wheel motors are set to radically change powertrain configurations of electric and hybrid electric vehicles and revolutionise electric drive systems across the automotive industry,” predicts Protean Electric’s CEO, KY Chan. “Our establishment of this manufacturing facility, in partnership with THT, for Protean's PD18 in-wheel motor is another important step toward commercialisation of Protean's breakthrough electric drive technology, and is also our response to strong China customer demands.”

THT and Protean Electric have entered into an agreement under which THT is providing tax incentives and other support to help Protean to establish its manufacturing operation, and its Chinese corporate headquarters, in the city of Tianjin. Protean intends to expand its development and application support teams. Its Chinese production plans have slipped by several years from its previous aim of starting production in 2013

Protean's in-wheel motors incorporate power and control electronics

The Protean in-wheel system is based on pancake motor technology originally developed in the UK by PML Flightlink, whose own origins dated back to 1963 when a company called Printed Motors was set up to manufacture flat armature motors. In 2007, Oak Investment Partners invested £10m in PML Flightlink and two years later, following various legal disputes, the business was split into two: Protean Electric, owned by Oak and other investors, which has continued to develop the in-wheel automotive drive systems, and Printed Motor Works, which focuses on pancake and brushless DC motors.

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