Chinese property developer Evergrande announced Thursday that it acquired British in-wheel motor company Protean for an undisclosed sum, as the conglomerate ramps up efforts to become a leader in the country’s increasingly fraught electric vehicle (EV) industry.

Protean is a UK-based automotive technology company that designs, develops, and manufactures in-wheel motors with operations in the US and China. The in-wheel motor vehicle is considered one of the leading technologies in the automotive industry, and refers to electric vehicles (EV) with separate motors installed close to each of the drive wheels, rather than those propelled by a single motor installed in the position of the engine.

In-wheel motor vehicles negate the need for gearboxes or driveshafts, lowering energy consumption and granting superior drive control. The company in December announced it secured 150 global patents for its ProteanDrive in-wheel motor system, which it intends to license in high volume to global auto brands and tier one auto suppliers.

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Jill Shen

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: jill.shen@technode.com or Twitter: @yushan_shen