Bollore Moves Forward With Electric Car from Pininfarina
By Brendan Moore
Bollore Group is committed to moving forward with their plans to have Pininfarina build an EV for them, despite the recent death of Pininfarina’s CEO, according to a report from Reuters.
Pininfarina’s chairman and chief executive, Andrea Pininfarina, was in charge of the car project which was absolutely crucial to the contract manufacturer and design firm until his death on Aug. 7 in a traffic accident. Mr. Pininfarina died in Turin, Italy after his Vespa scooter was struck by a car driven by a 78 year-old motorist. Mr. Pininfarina was on his way to work at Pininfarina Design in the morning.
Vincent Bollore, chief executive of Bollore, stated at a news conference yesterday that “everything is going ahead as planned”.
Vincent Bollore has already personally invested in Pininfarina shares and the two companies formed a joint venture to build the electric car earlier this year. Paolo Piininfarina, Andrea’s brother, is the new CEO of Pininfarina.
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 has been seen as a stroke of very good luck for the company.
A Pininfarina spokesman previously stated 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.
Pininfarina has more or less bet the company’s future on the Bollore tie-up, scheduled to start production of an electric car in 2010. The company has had no real production to speak of for quite some time, is awash in red ink and looks to the electric car as its salvation.
Pininfarina intends to establish a 7% operating margin on the strength of sales of the electric car, which it intends to sell under the Pininfarina brand in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
Production is forecasted at 15,000 units a year for the first three years. The company stated that it will open its order book for the new car in the summer of 2009.
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