B-ON and Chery plan joint venture for electric commercial vehicles

The former StreetScooter successor B-ON and the Chinese vehicle manufacturer Chery announced a joint venture for electric commercial vehicles. The first joint product is the Pelkan electric van, which is to be delivered to customers in mainland Europe from mid-2024.

Image: B–ON

Chery and StreetScooter – this duo has a history: in 2019, a sale of the Deutsche Post subsidiary StreetScooter, which was still run as an electric car division, to the Chinese OEM Chery was about to be finalised before the deal fell through. Deutsche Post then rumoured that it wanted to discontinue production of the electric delivery vans. As we all know, things turned out differently: in January 2022, B-ON (then still under the name Odin Automotive) took over production of the StreetScooter in Düren. And Chery will be doing business with B-ON in 2024.

Both sides now want to establish a joint venture for the development, production and marketing of electric commercial vehicles. B-ON hopes to gain access to funding and Chery’s production base, while the Chinese car manufacturer will gain access to the European and US markets in return (because B-On had produced in Germany via contract manufacturer Neapco and in California via Karma Automotive). The duo no longer has anything to do with StreetScooter. After B-ON GmbH, the manufacturer of the vehicle, went bankrupt in 2023, Aachen-based Professor Günther Schuh – the inventor of the StreetScooter – took over the rights again at the beginning of the year.

Instead, B-ON wants to build a new family of electric delivery vehicles. The company unveiled its first representative, the Pelkan, at the Japan Mobility Show last October. At the time, it was said that the Pelkan would celebrate its world premiere and go on sale in 2024. The subsequent announcement that the model is to be delivered to customers on the European mainland via the planned joint venture as early as mid-2024 confirms this schedule. It is not known whether there will be any technical changes to the electric van as a result of the collaboration with Chery.

According to the model data published by B-ON in October, the Pelkan has a maximum output of 85 kW with a maximum torque of 256 Nm and will be available with two battery variants (43 and 54 kWh). With the larger 54-kWh battery, the van is expected to achieve a WLTP range of more than 250 kilometres. At a DC charging station, the charging process from 30 to 80 per cent SoC (“State of Charge”) should take less than 30 minutes. The AC charging process from 0 to 100 per cent is specified as “under 8 hours”. According to B-ON, the payload should be 1,235 kilograms and the top speed 120 km/h. The manufacturer puts the external dimensions of the Pelikan at 5,725 x 1,850 x 2,515 mm and the wheelbase at 3,380 mm.

According to Reuters, Chery has a stake in B-ON and will provide working capital to finance the joint venture. The Chinese manufacturer is currently investing heavily in order to expand overseas: Just a few days ago, Chery confirmed that it will produce electric cars together with Spanish car manufacturer Ebro-EV Motors at a plant in Barcelona in the future.

“As a leading global automaker, we have long recognized the need to be prepared for an electric future,” commented Tongyue Yin, Chairman of the Chery Group. “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. Our partnership makes for a perfect union. Together, our future is bright.”

“Partnering with a major world leader like Chery Group is a pivotal moment for B–ON and its growth,” added Bruno Lambert, CEO of B-ON. “Combined, our ability to provide high quality, low-cost electric commercial vehicles is unmatched in the market today, and I’m extremely optimistic about our joint prospects.”



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