Daimler and Geely have announced the formation of a 50/50 joint venture to own, operate and further develop the Smart car brand as a premium electric vehicle (EV) pioneer.
The German and Chinese car manufacturers said in a statement issued today (March 28) that they want to work together to cement the compact car brand’s position as a pioneer of small urban vehicles and a leader in premium-electrified vehicles.
The joint venture follows a separate agreement between Daimler Mobility Services and Geely Technology Group announced last year, in which the companies agreed to co-operate on a new premium ride-hailing service in China.
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.”
Under the agreement the new generation of Smart vehicles will be styled by the worldwide 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 is also planned to be extended into the B-segment.
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.”
A statement issued jointly by Daimler and Geely said that the board of directors of the new Smart joint venture would be made up of six executives with equal representation from both parties.
Daimler AG board representatives will include Hubertus Troska, Daimler AG Board of Management member responsible for Greater China, Britta Seeger, Daimler AG Board of Management member responsible for Marketing and Sales of Mercedes-Benz Cars, and Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain and designated Board of Management Member responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
Geely board representatives will include Geely Holding chairman Li Shufu, Geely Holding president, Geely Auto Group president and chief executive An Conghui, Geely Holding Executive Vice President and chief financial officer Daniel Donghui Li.
The joint venture is expected to be finalised by the end of 2019.