Daimler has signed a 50-50 joint venture with Chinese-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group for the ownership and development of its small car Smart business.
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, Daimler AG chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: “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. Separately, Mercedes-Benz will produce a compact electric vehicle at the Hambach plant, sustaining employment with further investment in the facility.”
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 programme, the Smart product portfolio will 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 in France (Smart EQ Fortwo) and at Novo Mesto, Slovenia (Smart EQ Forfour).
In parallel, the Hambach plant will begin producing a compact Mercedes-Benz electric vehicle under the new product and technology brand EQ.
The joint venture is expected to be finalised by the end of 2019. Financial terms of the Smart joint venture have not been disclosed.