Daimler and Geely have announced the formation of a 50-50 globally focused joint venture to own, operate and further develop the Smart brand.
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.
“For more than 2.2 million customers, Smart represents a pioneer in urban mobility,” says Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
“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.”
“We fully respect the value of Smart,” adds Li Shufu, Geely chairman. “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 joint venture will be made up of six executives with equal representation from both parties. The JV partners have agreed that the new generation of Smart vehicles will be styled by the Mercedes-Benz Design network with engineering from Geely global engineering centers. Future production will be located in China.
As part of the vehicle-development program, the Smart product portfolio will also be extended into the fast-growing B-segment.
Prior to the launch of new models from 2022 onward, Daimler will continue to produce the current generation of Smart vehicles in its Hambach plant in France (the Smart EQ Fortwo) and at Novo Mesto (Slovenia, Smart EQ Forfour).
In parallel, the Hambach plant will take on a new role in the Mercedes-Benz Cars production network, produce a new Mercedes-Benz EQ compact electric vehicle.
The joint venture is expected to be finalized by the end of 2019. Financial terms of the smart joint venture have not been disclosed.