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Chery, B-ON form electric vans JV for Europe, N.America

By Nick Carey

LONDON (Reuters) -B-ON and China's Chery announced an electric van joint venture on Tuesday that gives the European producer access to funding and Chery's manufacturing base while the Chinese automaker gains access to European and U.S. markets.

Their first jointly developed van, the Pelkan, will begin deliveries to customers in Europe in the middle of 2024.

The Pelkan will offer a payload of up to 1,350 kg (1.49 tons) and come in two battery variants of 43 and 54 kilowatt hours providing ranges of 226 kilometres (140 miles) or 279 km.

Chery is an investor in Luxembourg-headquartered B-ON and will provide working capital to help fund the joint venture.

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"Innovative, agile companies like B–ON are uniquely poised to supply the nascent and rapidly expanding commercial vehicle market in their local geographies, but lack the manufacturing base to address the full mass-market demand," Chery Chairman Yin Tongyue said in a statement. "Our partnership makes for a perfect union."

The Chinese automaker will also provide engineering support to B-ON as part of the joint venture.

B-ON bought StreetScooter from DHL in 2021 and retained the package delivery giant as an anchor customer.

The company has been producing electric vans in Germany via contract manufacturer Neapco and in California with EV maker Karma Automotive.

The van maker has been seeking working capital to fund a major boost in production in Europe and the United States.

The announcement comes as Chery is rolling out passenger car sales in Europe.

Last week, Chery announced plans to produce cars at a plant in Barcelona through a joint venture with Spanish firm EV Motors.

(Reporting by Nick Carey; editing by Jason Neely)