"There is massive interest from the international car industry in the Qoros car enterprise," Israel Corporation (TASE: ILCO) CEO Nir Gilad told "Globes" when the car, a joint venture of Israel Corp. and China's Chery Automobile Co. Ltd., was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show.
Gilad added, "There is huge interest in the car's unique platform that the company has developed, which has been designed from the outset to form a base for a range of vehicle configurations including hybrid cars and completely electric vehicles."
Gilad declined to comment on whether Israel Corp. had received any offers for partnerships or to sell part of its 51% holding in the project. Sources in Geneva report that the Qoros show area has been visited by senior executives from German and US carmakers. Car industry sources believe that as the venture progresses there may be offers from major international manufacturers seeking to invest.
Sources at Israel Corp. say that in principle cooperation with the Chinese is based on the concept of building a new venture that is not restricted by an established carmaker limiting sales to the west. Therefore, the entry of an established vehicle manufacturer at this stage contradicts the main reason why the company was set up. At this stage there is mainly interest by established companies in technical cooperation on platforms and components.
Gilad said that the unique contribution of Israel Corp. is part of the special business vision and model that it is bringing to the Chinese car industry. He said, "There are many collaborations between Western car companies and the Chinese but the west is preventing the flow of advanced know-how to China. The Qoros project has broken through this barrier for the first time and allowed technology transfer."
Gilad added that the project is receiving encouragement and support from the Chinese government, which wants to promote a domestic car industry and enable it to catch up with the west.
Qoros is developing a nationwide network of car showrooms in China based on a new marketing concept. The price will be similar to Hyundai and Volkswagen cars. Gilad said, "The Chinese public will see a car that is competing with European cars in Europe which is a legitimate alternative to the European cars sold in China."
Gilad said that the car will not be exported to Israel for the time being because the Chinese see no advantage in such exports in promoting the new brand.
As of March 2012 Israel Corp and Chery had invested $624 million in the venture, which will begin manufacturing 150,000 cars per year from the end of 2013. The final amount invested will be far larger.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 6, 2013
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