Mercedes-Benz AG and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group join forces in a global joint venture through Smart Automobile Co., Ltd., as the Smart brand received regulatory approvals.
With a registered capital of 5.4 billion RMB (equally shared between the two companies), the JV seeks to “transform Smart into a leading player in premium and intelligent electrified vehicles.” Mercedes-Benz AG’s share will be mainly covered by the contribution of the Smart brand. The global headquarters will now be in Hangzhou Bay, Ningbo, with operational sales functions based in China and Germany.
A new generation of Smart vehicles will be designed by the worldwide Mercedes-Benz design network and developed by the Geely global engineering network, with future production to happen in China.
Smart’s new vehicle development program will extend its portfolio “into the fast-growing B-segment that… in line with Smart’s brand positioning with a focus on pure premium electric and connected vehicles.”
Six executives with equal representation from both parties will make up the Smart board of directors. Daimler AG board representatives will include member of the board of management of Daimler AG responsible for Greater China Hubertus Troska, member of the board of management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG responsible for marketing and sales Britta Seeger, and member of the board of management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development Markus Schäfer. Geely board representatives will include Geely Holding chairman Li Shufu; Geely Holding president, Geely Auto Group president, and CEO An Conghui; and Geely Holding executive vice president and CFO Daniel Donghui Li.
Tong Xiangbei has been appointed the new global CEO of the Smart joint venture. He will be overseeing all operations relating to the brand including sales, marketing, R&D, production, and after-sales. Tong has more than two decades of experience in the automotive industry. Before joining the Smart joint venture, he has worked for global automotive OEMs both in the United States and in China.
Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG Ola Källenius said: “Having received all necessary regulatory approvals we are now ready to start the joint venture with our partner Geely that has been in preparation for the past several months. The joint venture will bring the next generation of zero-emission Smart electric cars to the Chinese and global markets. We look forward to continue our collaboration to bring desirable products and services to customers around the world.”
For his part, Geely Holding Chairman Li Shufu declared: “The Smart brand has a unique value and global influence, it has grown to be a leader in urban mobility. Geely Holding will fully support the Smart brand with its full advantages in R&D, manufacturing, supply chain and other fields into the joint venture and support its development in China and globally. We will work together with Mercedes-Benz to transform the Smart brand into a leading player in urban premium, electric and connected vehicles to successfully develop the brand’s global potential.”