Automotive giants Daimler and Geely will form a joint venture to run the city car firm Smart.
The brand has been a loss-maker for parent company Daimler, which also owns Mercedes-Benz, since the launch of its first car the City Coupe in 1998. Under these plans, Smart would accelerate its evolution to a manufacturer of pure electric vehicles – ditching internal combustion by 2022.
Manufacturing of these vehicles would move to a new, purpose-built facility in China, and Geely and Daimler would take equal roles – with Daimler responsible for the design and styling and Geely the engineering. The board of directors of the new joint venture will be formed of six executives, three drawn from each company.
Industrial group Geely has a history of purchasing and ‘saving’ brands. Its largest acquisitions of past years have been Swedish manufacturer Volvo, British sports car brand Lotus, Malaysian national car manufacturer Proton, and producer of the iconic black cab the London Electric Vehicle Company.
It’s also further exploring electric vehicles with its Lynk&Co and Polestar brands.
Although Daimler’s biggest car brand is Mercedes, it’s also the largest manufacturer of trucks in the world.
Geely and Daimler have also confirmed that Smart will expand its model line-up into the B-segment but further details of this have not been confirmed.
Financial details of the joint venture were not disclosed by either brand, but the full terms of the deal are expected to be finalised by the end of 2019.
Geely Chairman, Li Shufu, said: ““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.”