Daimler partners with China’s Geely to make Smart a leading e-car brand
Clean Energy Wire
German carmaker Daimler has teamed up with China’s Geely to develop the Daimler brand Smart into a “leader in premium-electrified vehicles,” the companies say in a press release. The joint venture will be owned equally by Daimler and Geely and includes a new “purpose-built” e-car factory in China for exclusive production of the new series. Global sales are slated to commence by 2022. The companies agreed that the vehicle will be designed by Daimler and engineered by Geely, whose founder Li Shufu became a major Daimler shareholder in 2018. “Together, we want to make sure that Smart can be (…) what it has been from the very start: a pioneer of urban mobility,” the Daimler CEO says in a company blog post, arguing that the large number of big cities in China and the advanced stage of e-mobility there made the country an ideal proving ground for the new e-car strategy. Daimler said that since its launch in 1997, it had intended to eventually turn Smart into a “fully electric” brand.
The announcement by Daimler and Geely comes at a time of profound change for the German automotive industry. A commission tasked with proposing ways to reduce the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions recently failed to find a compromise for measures sufficient to abide by EU climate targets but agreed on promoting the roll-out of e-cars at a large scale. Germany’s biggest carmaker Daimler earlier in March announced it would drastically ramp up its efforts to become a major producer of e-cars, saying it will assemble about 22 million electric vehicles over the next decade.