' We will use our experience and our global competencies in brand management, research and development, production, supplier management and other areas The synergies from this cooperation will benefit both sides. At the same time, we will continue to develop smart technologies, also in the area of connectivity, in order to remain at the forefront of the industry in times of broad change, 'said Li Shufu, Chairman of Geely Holding in January 2020 when the cooperation is announced.
Smart plans with Fortwo and an SUV
According to the agreement, the upcoming smart models will be designed by Mercedes and developed in Geely's engineering center. In addition, the product portfolio is to be expanded to include the B segment (small cars). Expanded. Not focused. Because, contrary to what is often read, there are no plans in the 'Smart Automobile Co., Ltd' to withdraw from the A segment. Auto-motor-und-sport.de learned this from corporate circles. The product offensive will start in 2022 with an electric Smart SUV based on a completely new, jointly developed electric platform. An SUV is essential for the Chinese market, especially for joint venture partner Geely. As a result, A-segment vehicles are also planned again, according to the company. However, they do not want to communicate the exact model timetable yet.
The current Smart as EQ Fortwo will continue to roll off the assembly line at least until the market launch of the new model in Hambach, France, the Smart EQ Forfour in the Slovenian plant in Novo Mesto. Both parties announced the formal establishment of the joint venture on Wednesday (8 January 2020) and will each bring 2.7 billion RMB (yuan) - the equivalent of 350 million euros. The Supervisory Board is made up of six executives from each of the contractual partners. Daimler is represented on the Board of Management by Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and in this role responsible for China activities, Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales, and Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Research and Development. Geely is represented on the board by Li Shufu, Chairman of Geely Holding, An Conghui, President of Geely Holding and President and CEO of Geely Auto Group, and Daniel Donghui Li, Executive Vice President and CFO of Geely Holding. Tong Xiangbei has been named the new global CEO of the Smart Joint Venture andwill be responsible for all activities in connection with the brand, including sales, marketing, research & development, production.
Smart: A story of suffering
Smart has been following expectations in the Daimler Group for a good two decades and does not manage to get into to come into profitability. The reasons are varied and range from a failed model policy to the wrong choice of partner to the decision not to build the smallest vehicle as an electric car right from the start.
In 2020, the Daimler subsidiary completely focused on the topic of combustion engines and is thus the group’s first all-electric brand. That sounds logical, especially in view of the original smart idea of Swatch inventor Nicolas Hayek, but at the same time it drives the brand deep into the red. And because the relationship with Smart partner Renault, which sells the Forfour as Twingo, has more than cooled down, there was little more than a shrug to report when it comes to the next generation of models.
Help comes from the major Daimler investor
Help came from busy Li Shufu. Shufu is the most important head at Geely and has been involved with Daimler with 9.7% since 2018. Geely stands for 'luck' in China and its founder Li Shufu for someone who has had an almost fairytale career. After studying mechanical engineering, the son of a rice farmer began to produce refrigerator parts, began building motorcycles in 1992 and rolled the first car to the factory gates in 1998. The vehicle looked like a badly copied Mercedes C-Class, a copyright lawsuit followed.
No surprising cooperation
20 years later, Li is playing with his Geely Automotive Holdings Ltd at eye level with the traditional international car manufacturers. In addition to various Chinese brands, Proton /Lotus, Volvo , Lynk & Co. and Terrafugia to the Geely Group. So the cooperation between Geely and Smart is not that surprising. Shortly after joining Daimler, Li announced in a message that he was very pleased to accompany Daimler 'on its way to becoming one of the world's leading providers of electric mobility!'
Geely a lot of electric know-how
Geely himself wants to bring thirty new electric cars onto the market by 2020. The Geely subsidiary Kandi is currently launching the K22 small electric car, which is not unlike a Smart Fortwo, on the US market. The two-seater is available before the deduction of all government subsidies at prices starting at $ 18,995. The two companies only announced at the end of January that they would be setting up a ride-hailing joint venture in China, which will offer mobility services for the transport of passengers with premium vehicles in several Chinese cities. The fleet initially includes the Mercedes-Benz models S-Class, E-Class, V-Class and Maybach. Premium electric vehicles from the Geely Group can also complement the fleet.
A jointly developed small electric car in the Geely Group could also serve other brands (Panda, LEV, Volvo, Proton) in other world markets.