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Protean Electric: Innovation upon innovation

By David Arnold


The case is intended as a vehicle for analysis of the challenges involved in launching an innovative product. It is set against the background of the wave of innovation in the vehicle market, as manufacturers race to replace internal combustion engines (ICEs) with electric power. Protean Electric, a company of British origin but now Chinese-owned, aims to introduce another level of innovation by introducing its in-wheel motor (IWM) technology to electric vehicles (EVs). Instead of simply replacing an internal combustion engine with an electric battery unit, Protean technology dispenses with the central powertrain and mounts electric power units in some or all of the wheels of the vehicle. The company is committed to being part of the entry into the mainstream passenger EV market of Evergrande, its Chinese owners, but has historically also looked at other sectors such as urban shuttles and delivery fleets, and has retained the ability to continue to develop products for those sectors. It also has to consider the emerging consensus that the transport market of the future will shift away from individual ownership towards a model known as CASE (connected, autonomous, shared, electrified). The contrast between the ‘niche’ IWM innovation and the market-wide electric revolution highlights the key concepts in new-product market analysis.

Learning objectives

1. An understanding of the importance of the ‘inflection points’ that occur in market evolution, often after lengthy gestation periods, and after which growth accelerates.
2. An understanding of the importance of customer behaviour and attitudes in determining market adoption of an innovation; particularly the customer’s perception of the degree of change required on their part.
3. An understanding of marketing policies appropriate for launching radical innovations.
4. An appreciation of the elements of a targeting strategy for launching innovations.
5. The application of a targeting strategy to a market context to judge fit between innovative product and market.


Publication Date: November 2020
LBS Case Code: CS-20-004
Subjects: , ,
Geography: , ,
Pages: 13
Format: pdf