Mercedes-Benz and Geely announced on Wednesday that its fully electric city-car brand, Smart, is going Chinese.
The companies have secured the regulatory approvals to formally establish Smart as a global joint venture based in Hangzhou Bay, Ningbo, and will have sales organizations in China and Germany.
Mercedes parent company Daimler, and Geely, the parent company of Volvo (and Lotus and Polestar) will both invest 2.7 billion yuan ($388 million) into the venture, with the total amount enough “to transform smart into a leading player in premium-and intelligent electrified vehicles,” as stated by a joint press release.
Development of the new-generation fully electric vehicles will be shared between the two companies, with the look of the vehicle from Mercedes-Benz Design and engineering by Geely and what it terms “the Geely global engineering network.”
2020 Smart EQ Fortwo
The companies had originally announced the plan in March, and have said that they would continue to market Smart globally—except the U.S., as it announced shortly after that it was pulling the plug in the U.S. Smart had been a money-loser for Daimler for most if not all of its existence; as of 2013 it has already lost a cumulative $4.6 billion.
Just last month, Daimler and Geely launched a joint-venture ride-hailing company called StarRides. That will initially use Mercedes-Benz models but could potentially be expanded to other brands—including vehicles from the new Smart on the way as soon as soon as late 2022.