Geely and Mercedes-Benz invest $780 million to make electric Smart cars

Geely will lead engineering and Mercedes-Benz will take charge of their overall look

BEIJING/SHANGHAI — Zhejiang Geely and Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday said they would each invest $388.77 million (2.7 billion yuan) in a China-based venture to build "premium and intelligent electrified" vehicles under the Smart brand.

The 50:50 venture has received regulatory approval and will be based in the Chinese coastal city of Ningbo, the Chinese and German automakers said in a statement. Like Mercedes-Benz, smart is a Daimler marque.

The venture will have manufacturing capacity in China and sales operations in China and Germany, the automakers said. Geely will lead in engineering the cars while Mercedes-Benz will take charge of their overall look, they said.

The partners will each have three executives on the board of directors, with Geely's Tong Xiangbei becoming the venture's global chief executive.

Geely has expanded rapidly through mergers and acquisitions since buying Sweden's Volvo in 2010 from U.S. parent Ford. In 2018, it built a stake of almost 9.7% in Daimler and set up a ride-hailing venture in China with the Stuttgart-based carmaker.

Its latest announcement comes just over a month after China's Great Wall and Germany's BMW formed a venture to build electric Mini-branded cars in China, the world's biggest market for electrified vehicles where demand for smaller EVs is on the rise.

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