German automaker Daimler is tapping China’s Geely to transform its Smart cars into an EV brand. The two companies are setting up a joint venture to build Smart EVs in China and sell them globally, a move comes at a time when Smart keeps losing money and a tide shift from gas vehicle to EVs is happening across the globe.
Daimler and Geely will each hold a 50% percent in the JV, which will assemble Smart electric models in a factory in China and start selling them from 2022 on.
Geely is China’s third largest car maker by sales. The company sold more than 1.5 million vehicles in 2018, accounting for 6.2% of China’s passenger vehicle market, up from 5% in 2017, according to its latest financial statement. Among those, 67,069 units were EVs – including battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles – up 165% from the previous year.
The automaker also said that it will “significantly increase the proportion of new energy vehicles in its sales volume”.