Daimler is considering to finally cooperate with the Chinese manufacturer and the latest stakeholder Geely for the Smart successor models that are to be EV only from 2020. Concrete talks on technical cooperation are already underway.
The news came in through the German publication Manager Magazin, that added that Daimler’s Chinese joint venture partner BAIC is also interested in a cooperation. However, the discussions with Geely are already underway for the smallest cars to be electrified, a step that will happen from 2020 onwards in Europe anyway reported.
Smart previously shared a large part of the technology with Renault, but the cooperation is on hold. “We are working on the concept for the Smart successor model and are in discussions with various potential cooperation partners,” confirmed a Smart spokeswoman. Considering this it is likely the next generation of Smart models could be both designed and built in China.
Industry insider Georg Kacher already surmised in the autumn that the future of the Daimler brand was on shaky ground because Renault wanted to withdraw from the cooperation. He predicted this would happen as soon as the duo Smart ForFour and Renault Twingo, which have a common platform, had reached the end of their cycles. At this point, Kacher was already talking about the possibility that Geely could become a new small (electric) car partner.
The Smart brand is already fully electric in North America. Since the most recent model change in September 2017, Daimler no longer offers petrol-powered small cars of the Smart brand in the USA, Canada and Norway. The start of the Smart EQ era was heralded at the beginning of 2018 at the Geneva Motor Show with black-painted models called Nightsky. In Germany, Smarts with a combustion engine can only be ordered until 31 March.
Meanwhile, Geely has fixed its business plans in mid-2018 in a new energy strategy called Geely Intelligent Power. Among other things, the paper contains the announcement that no fewer than 30 new electric and hybrid models will be launched on the market within two years, including several purely electric models with a range of more than 500 km. Geely founder Li Shufu also has a special relationship with Daimler – he became a major shareholder in Daimler last year with a stake of just under 10 per cent.
manager-magazin.de (in German, behind paywall)