Swedish electric car startup NEVS, owned by China's Evergrande Group, announced on Monday that it has acquired Protean Electric, a British company developing in-wheel electric motors for automotive applications.

The deal will see Protean continue to independently develop its in-wheel electric motor, known as Protean Drive, which NEVS will use for its future lineup. Protean will also be able to tap NEVS for additional resources and business opportunities, including potentially supplying electric motors to Koenigsegg, the Swedish supercar marque which is 20-percent owned by NEVS.

NEVS is the company born out of the remains of Saab. After failing to relaunch the bankrupt Saab, NEVS decided to launch its own eponymous brand to develop a family of electric cars including sedans and crossovers, as well as self-driving cars. Sales are to take place in China and Sweden initially, but the plan is to expand sales to the rest of Europe and even the United States.

Protean was founded in 2008 and so far only shown its in-wheel electric motors in concept form. The motors have been designed so they could also fit existing vehicles, meaning they could be used to turn a conventional car into a hybrid. Protean already has more than 160 patents for its technology and a further 150 pending.

No automaker is yet to launch a car with in-wheel motors, though. One of the main reasons is because wheels typically take a lot of abuse, bumping over broken pavement, driveways, sometimes even curbs, and slamming into potholes. In-wheel electric motors haven't been able to stand up to the abuse.