Hot on the heels of news that Daimler could be getting ready to axe Smart, a new report is claiming the company is close to striking a deal with Geely.
According to sources who spoke to the Financial Times, Daimler could sell a 50% stake in the automaker to Geely. While nothing is official, one insider told the publication that an announcement is expected to take place before the Shanghai Auto Show kicks off next month.
Geely declined to comment when reached by the publication, but Daimler said they have been talking to “several possible co-operation partners” about the next-generation of Smart vehicles. This meshes up with previous reports which suggested the company was having discussions with BAIC and Geely.
While a lot of details remain unknown, the partnership could help to make Smart profitable. As we have previously reported, the brand has never been able to achieve its original global sales target of 200,000 units annually and sales of the ForTwo plummeted to 1,276 units in the United States last year. Evercore ISI also believes Smart loses between $565 – $792 (£428 – £600 / €500 – €700) million annually.
Turning around Smart will likely prove challenging, but the company’s new boss, Katrin Adt, is rumored to have big plans for the brand. Specifics are lacking, but the executive is said to be eyeing an expanded product lineup which is more diverse than it is today.
Smart has committed to going fully electric and that’s unlikely to change with Geely’s rumored involvement. This isn’t too surprising as China is the largest market for electric vehicles.