One clue to the mystery surrounding the $1.25 billion company value achieved by Better Place LLC in last week's investment, lies in China. On Friday, the official Chinese press disclosed initial technical details about the compact jeep under development by Chery-Quantum LLC, a joint venture between Better Place shareholder Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) and Chery Automobile Company Co. Ltd.
Israel Corp. invested $225 million in Chery-Quantum for a 50% stake in the joint venture. Last year, Chery-Quantum changed its plans to build premium cars to focus on an electric jeep. According to the Chinese media, the new Chery-Quantum compact jeep, which bears the code T21, was designed at a studio in Milan, and resembles the general design of Chery's Tiggo 5, but is smaller.
The T21 will have a replaceable battery, which will probably be made by A123 Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AONE) of the US, in which Israel Corp. is a shareholder. The battery will be located on the T21's double floor.
The Chinese press believes that the T21 is primarily designed to meet European and US standards, and that it will be one of Better Place's strategic models for the second stage of its penetration into new markets in mid-to-late 2012.
Industry sources believe that Israel Corp. plans to supply Better Place with electric cars that suit the latter's batter replacement model, which it has demonstrated to potential investors, and which helped boost the company value for the latest investment.
In a separate development, sources inform ''Globes'' that Better Place is presenting the final model of its battery replacement station, which includes a storage and management network. The model has been built and is operating at the company's closed hangar in Petah Tikva.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 31, 2010
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