Chinese media: Qoros to open Israeli R&D center

Idan Ofer in a Qoros

The Chinese automaker may look to Israel to develop its smart car technologies.

Chinese automaker Qoros is considering the establishment of an advanced research & development center in Israel, Chinese media report.

According to the Chinese reports, “Qoros plans to open an R&D center in Israel to focus on developing a smart car, to stand at the forefront of electric vehicle development – including autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence technologies. These technologies will be integrated in the next generation of electric cars by Qoros."

Qoros is held by Kenon Holdings, which spun off from the Israel Corporation last year and is controlled by Idan Ofer (55%).

The Chinese medium did not source its report, which was included as part of the coverage of an event at which Qoros presented the plans for its electric vehicle division – which was recently announced by the company.

According to the plan – “E-MISSION 2016” – a prototype of a Qoros electric vehicle based on the Qoros 5 will be diplayed at the Beijing Auto Show in April. The platform will serve as the base for both an electric vehicle and a plug-in hybrid, which will be launched in China within 12-18 months. Israel Corporation did not comment on the report.

Since the R&D center for Better Place – in which the Israel Corporation also invested – closed three years ago, Israel has not been home to a fully-fledged center for developing an electric vehicle. However, Israel has been gaining acclaim as a center for global expertise in vehicle technologies like remote start and electric ignition.

Kenon has continued to suffer from extensive losses as it continues to finance the massive losses incurred by Qoros – a total of $1.1 billion until now. In the five years between 2010 and 2014, Qoros was responsible for a total loss of $449 million for Kenon; in the first nine months of 2015, it added $114 million to those losses.

Qoros sold 13,000 vehicles in China during 2015 – more than twice as much as in the corresponding period of 2014, but those are paltry figures given the size of the Chinese market. In January, Qoros announced the resignation of another CEO, Phil Murtaugh, and another change in direction, this time towards environmentally-friendly and autonomous vehicles – yet another twist for the company, which was initially slated (under the brand Chery Quantum) to produce luxury vehicles.

It later hinted it would manufacture electric vehicles for the now-deceased Better Place. Then the company turned its focus to family sedans. Along the way the venture also spoke of a goal of opening up Europe to Chinese vehicles with European standards, but eventually settled on the domestic Chinese market.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 9, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

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Idan Ofer in a Qoros
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