Daimler AG (Daimler) and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Holding), the German and Chinese automotive groups, have announced the formation of a 50-50 joint venture to own, operate and further develop Smart, the pioneer of small urban vehicles, as “a leader in premium-electrified vehicles”.
Under the joint venture agreement, a new generation of Smart electric models will be assembled at a new purpose-built electric car factory in China with global sales due to begin in 2022.
Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: “For more than 2.2 million customers, Smart represents a pioneer in urban mobility. Based on this success story, we look forward to further enhancing the brand with Geely Holding, a strong partner in the electric vehicle segment. We will jointly design and develop the next generation of Smart electric cars that combine high-quality production and known safety standards for sale both in China and globally. In the future, we are looking forward to working with all partners to sustain our success in China and worldwide. Separately, Mercedes-Benz will produce a compact electric vehicle at the Hambach plant, sustaining employment with further investment in the facility.”
Li Shufu, Geely Holding Chairman, added: “We fully respect the value of Smart. This brand has a unique appeal and strong commercial value. Geely Holding and Daimler look forward to this challenging and exciting new project, through which we will further push the introduction of premium electric products to give a better mobility experience to our customers. As equal partners, we are dedicated to promoting the smart brand globally; we will leverage our experience and global competencies in brand management, R&D, manufacturing, supply chain management and other areas. The synergies from this cooperation will lead to mutual benefits, at the same time we will further develop technologies for smart including connectivity, to continue to lead in the industry as it undergoes a wider transformation.”
The board of directors of the new Smart joint venture will be made up of six executives with equal representation from both parties.
The joint venture partners have agreed that the new generation of Smart vehicles will be styled by the worldwide Mercedes-Benz Design network with engineering from Geely global engineering centres. Future production will be located in China.
As part of the vehicle-development program, the Smart product portfolio is also planned to be extended into the fast-growing B-segment.
Prior to the launch of new models from 2022 onwards, Daimler will continue to produce the current generation of Smart vehicles in its Hambach plant France (smart EQ fortwo) and at Novo Mesto (Slovenia, smart EQ forfour).
In parallel, the Hambach plant will assume an additional new role in the Mercedes-Benz Cars production network and will produce a compact electric vehicle by Mercedes-Benz under the new product and technology brand EQ in the future.
The joint venture is expected to be finalised by the end of 2019. Financial terms of the smart joint venture have not been disclosed.