Smart lives on! Chinese manufacturer Geely has acquired 50% of the Smart brand, which will only produce electrical models in China, from 2022.
We recently reported that Daimler could shut down the Smart brand due to financial losses, but eventually the Germans have reached an agreement to save Smart with the Chinese manufacturer Geely, who also owns Volvo and Lotus. The brand will be expanded by developing subcompact models and production will only take place in China.
Effectively, Geely has acquired a 50% stake in Smart, so Daimler and the Chinese company will each own half of the brand, which will be reinvented and only produce electric models. Mercedes-Benz will set the design of the new Smart models, while Geely will handle all technical details, including production in China. No financial details regarding the 50% buyout of Smart have been disclosed.
In addition to the current city models, Smart will expand its range by launching bigger, subcompact models, most likely with the goal of increasing sales and, implicitly, revenue. The first models developed under the new partnership will be launched globally in 2022. Until then, Daimler will continue to produce Smart EQ Fortwo at the Hambach plant in France and Smart EQ Forfour at the Slovenian Novo Mesto plant.
The Smart deal is not the first collaboration between Daimler and Geely. Last year, Li ShuFu, the owner of Geely Automobile Holdings, became the biggest Daimler shareholder after he bought 9.69 % of the german premium automaker’s shares. In 2018, the two companies also announced they will launch in joint-venture a premium ride-hailing service (similar to Uber) in China.
As Smart production in Europe will cease, Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will invest 500 million euros to produce an electric model at its plant in Hambach.