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PARIS, Dec 21 (Reuters) - French financier Vincent Bollore is teaming up with Italian car designer and manufacturer Pininfarina PNNI.MI to build an electric car in a project worth about 150 million euros ($215.4 million).
Bollore and Pininfarina will set up a joint venture with the aim to put a small, four-seater car on the market by the summer of 2009, according to a Friday statement from Bollore’s holding company.
It is also the first time that Pininfarina will work on an electric car, whose market appeal is growing in an industry that under mounting pressure to reduce the CO2 emissions of its vehicles to help curb global warming.
The manufacturers that are dedicated to making a completely electric car are mostly small, niche players like Tesla Motors and Britain’s Lotus Engineering.
Big car makers prefer hybrid cars, which twin an electric battery with a gasoline engine, like Toyota's 7203.T Prius.
General Motors GM.N scrapped its EV1 electric car in favour of its Chevrolet Volt, which runs on electric power as well as a small combustion engine.
The larger auto makers still consider the size and cost of the batteries needed to run all-electric cars to be prohibitive.
Although Pininfarina shares raced up 15.1 percent to close at 8.407 euros on Friday, they have lost most of their value since September when they were trading above 20 euros.
With an operating loss expected to be posted this year, Pininfarina has hired advisers to help it develop a new industrial strategy. Details are expected early next year.
Bollore's group, which will provide the lithium-metal-polymer (LMP) battery technology to the venture, is already developing an electric car with French power company EDF EDF.PA, the BlueCar.
A Pininfarina spokesman said the company would likely present a prototype late next year.
It had yet to decide through which channels it would sell the vehicle, whose markets would include Europe, Japan, and the United States.
With a battery able to be charged in five hours, the car would drive at a maximum speed of 130 kmph (81 mph), according to a Pininfarina statement.
Within the city, it would be able to go 250 km (155 miles) before recharging, it said.
Pininfarina expects to be able to produce a maximum of 15,000 units per year, depending on demand. ($1=0.6962 euro) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon in Paris and Gilles Castonguay in Milan; Editing by Paul Bolding, Leslie Gevirtz)
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