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Friday, March 5, 2010

Valence Inks 5-Year Deal to Put Rechargeable Batteries Aboard Hybrid Yachts

The Austin Statesman

Valence CEO Robert Kanode — with Bénéteau's Wayne Burdick, left, during a recent boat show in Miami — said his battery company's deal with Bénéteau could generate more than the $45 million in revenue forecast by the French yacht maker. 
Austin-based Valence Technology Inc. has signed an agreement to provide rechargeable batteries to the world's largest maker of sailing yachts.

France-based Bénéteau Group will use a Valence rechargeable battery in all of its hybrid electric boats that use a hybrid drive system. The new yachts are equipped with electric drive pods instead of the diesel engines commonly used to power boats out to sea. Those drive pods can also be used to generate electricity, which is stored in the battery.

Valence's batteries will also be able to meet the yacht's internal needs while at sea for up to three days, Valence CEO Robert Kanode said.

"They're on the cutting edge, and it's where we belong," Kanode said.
The hybrid boats emit little or no emissions, reduce fuel use and require less maintenance than traditional diesel marine systems.

"It is a new way of sailing without any noise or polluting gas emissions, with the battery making it possible to store enough energy to live comfortably onboard for several days," said Dieter Gust, a member of Bénéteau Group's management board.

Bénéteau representatives estimated that the agreement will produce $9 million in revenue for Valence in the first year, once marine battery shipments begin in the second half of 2010, with total revenue of $45 million possible over the five years of the agreement.

Kanode called the $45 million estimate conservative. In the past 12 months, Valence's revenue totaled about $17.4 million. The company, which makes rechargeable batteries for marine use and electric vehicles such as trucks and motorcycles, has not made a profit since it was founded in 1989.

Valence shares gained almost 16 percent to close at 95 cents on Thursday.