Pininfarina and Bollore to Produce Electric Car
By Brendan Moore
Vincent Bolloré, the French financier, has committed to a joint venture with Italian car designer and manufacturer Pininfarina SpA to produce a zero-emissions electric car, with production of up to 15,000 units per year.
The terms of the JV will require Pininfarina and Groupe Bolloré to spend €150 million ($215 million USD) to fund the venture, which will be funded on an equal percentage basis.
Pininfarina will handle the design, assembly and sales, while Groupe Bolloré will develop and supply the batteries, the companies said. The batteries will use lithium-metal-polymer (LMP) technology, have a maximum speed of 81 mph and should have a maximum range of about 150 miles per charge. Bollore’s group is already developing an electric car with French power company EDF – the BlueCar.
The four-seater will be sold under the Pininfarina brand, a new move for the Italian company, which is best known for doing contract work designing and making cars for others such as Ford, Volvo, Peugeot and Fiat’s Alfa Romeo. Pininfarina has not however, been in good financial health in recent years, so the joint venture is seen as a stroke of very good luck for the company.
A Pininfarina spokesman said the company would likely present a prototype late next year. The car is scheduled to be offered for sale in 2010. Which channels it would sell the vehicle through are unknown but the planned markets would include Europe, Japan, and the United States.
It is the first known time that Pininfarina will do development work on an electric car, whose market attractiveness is growing exponentially in the auto industry as a result of recent legislation in the EU and the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to help curb global warming. Even so, the project will be closely watched, as many attempts to develop mass-market electric cars have stumbled on the lack of reliable batteries.
The electric vehicles (EVs) brought to market so far have been small urban runabouts from small niche companies. The large auto companies have invested their time and effort into development of hybrid vehicles that run on a combination of battery and engine power. Even the forthcoming Chevrolet Volt is basically an EV with a supplemental gasoline engine. Current hybrids such as the Toyota Prius are gasoline-powered vehicles with a supplemental battery power source.
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