Daimler AG agreed to form a 50/50 joint venture with Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to own, operate, and further develop Daimler’s Smart micro vehicle series as a line of premium-electrified vehicles. A new generation of Smart electric models will be built at a new electric car factory in China, for global distribution starting in 2022.
The venture will be finalized later this year. Specific financial commitments to the project were not revealed.
The new Smart vehicles will be styled by the Mercedes-Benz Design network with engineering provided by Geely global engineering centers. Future production will be in China. In addition to developing future electrified micro vehicles the new venture will extend its product line into the "B-segment", or small compact vehicles.
Smart is a series of subcompacts and microcars introduced by Daimler in 1998 as a "city car," with room for two passengers and a small cargo area, but able to maneuver and park in narrow or confined spaces.
Geely is a privately held automotive group headquartered in Hangzhou and distributing vehicles worldwide through its Geely, Volvo, and Geely Commercial Vehicles business units.
In a blog post describing the venture,, Daimler chairman Dieter Zetsche outlined a vision of a new phase of development for the Smart brand, involving not only new models but new applications for 5G-connected vehicles, car-sharing programs, and services (like addressable package delivery to vehicles.)
This joint venture is separate from a previous agreement between Daimler Mobility Services and Geely Technology Group agreed to cooperate on a new premium ride-hailing service in China.
“Today, connectivity at 5G speed opens up a whole universe of opportunities,” Zetsche wrote. “Together with Geely, we are therefore investing not only money but also talent and experience of both of our companies to use all this potential for our smart customers around the world.”
Until the launch of the new models (in 2022), Daimler will continue to produce the current generation of Smart vehicles at Hambach, France, and Novo Mesto, Slovenia. After that time, the Hambach plant produce a new, compact electric vehicle by Mercedes-Benz, a brand to be called EQ.