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Bedeo buys in-wheel pioneer Protean from troubled Evergrande

04 November, 2021

Bedeo, a UK company specialising in transport electrification technologies, has acquired the in-wheel motor (IWM) pioneer Protean Electric from National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), a subsidiary of Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group – itself owned by the troubled Chinese property giant, Evergrande. The financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Bedeo says that its combination with Protean will accelerate its mission to electrify transport, and will expand its geographical reach from the UK and Europe, to the US and Asia. It describes the businesses as “highly complementary”.

“We have known and partnered with Protean Electric for many years and the opportunity to acquire this business represents a material but natural shift and acceleration in Bedeo’s electrification strategy,” says the Bedeo's founder and CEO, Osman Boyner. “Protean Electric’s highly differentiated proprietary technology and strong customer relationships have fuelled its well-documented success to date and we are confident that combining the skills and products of our two operations is going to propel Bedeo further into the EV ecosystem.

“Protean,” he adds, “is the first acquisition under Bedeo’s expansive growth strategy, which was initiated after the successful capital raise from the sustainability-focussed institutional investor, Ludgate, earlier this year. The company retains a strong balance sheet and continue to explore attractive strategic and synergic acquisition opportunities in the electrification space.”

Protean, whose headquarters are in Farnham, UK, employs around 150 people in the UK, China and the US. Its ProteanDrive in-wheel motor technology delivers torque and power directly to the vehicle wheels with no shafts or gears, and is said to be both lighter and more efficient than conventional EV powertrains. By putting the power in the wheels, the technology increases the space available in electric vehicles.

Protean Electric will continue to operate under its existing brand and to be led by its current management team. CEO Andrew Whitehead says: “We’re immensely excited to join forces with Bedeo and look forward to our combination taking the company to the next level both in terms of scale and product offering. This acquisition ensures we will be well capitalised to meet the burgeoning demand from existing and new customers. The paradigm shift towards electrification in transportation requires our customers to adapt their products to their changing needs and, together, we are ideally placed to accelerate this transition.”

Protean, founded in 2008, can trace its history back to the pioneering British developer of pancake motors, Printed Motors (later renamed PML Flightlink), which was founded in 1963 and split in 2009 to form Protean and Printed Motor Works, which still manufactures low-profile motors in the UK.

Bedo CEO Osman Boyner (centre, left) and Protean Electric CEO Andrew Whitehead (centre, right) with Protean Electric employees at its Farnham headquarters.

Protean was acquired in 2019 by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), a subsidiary of Evergrande Health, as part of Evergrande’s strategy to become a major player in the global EV industry. NEVS was based on Saab Automobile, whose assets Evergrande acquired following the Swedish car-maker’s bankruptcy in 2012. In January 2019, Evergrande Health acquired a 51% stake in NEVS, which it combined with Protean and several other automotive companies to create the New Energy Vehicle group.

Globally, Protean has more than 200 patents (with 120 pending) with operations in the UK, China and the US.

Bedeo develops and manufactures high-efficiency electric powertrains. It has more than 40 customers in logistics, e-commerce, online grocery and food retailing, and waste management, including Ocado, DPD, DHL and TNT/FedEx. The automotive giant Stellantis has chosen Bedeo to produce light electric commercial vehicles for its Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Vauxhall brands in Europe. Bedeo is expanding its technology to the marine, aviation and stationary markets.

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