Mercedes-Benz may end up selling part of Smart to Geely.
Chinese automaker Geely is apparently interested in buying distressed Smart brand from Mercedes-Benz.
Smart hasn’t exactly been a cash cow for Mercedes-Benz and Daimler. According to research firm Evercore ISI, the German automaker apparently loses a billion dollars a year on Smart (500 to 700 million euros). Daimler never gave official numbers on Smart, but it’s been widely known for a while around the industry that the brand is not profitable.
Despite the tremendous losses and a limited lineup, Geely seems to think the Smart name has potential. According to the Financial Times, Geely has offered to purchase a 50 percent stake in Smart from Daimler. Nothing is officially announced yet, but FT’s sources say the deal will be announced before the Shanghai Auto Show in April.
Launched in 1998, Smart never really managed to get off the ground. The current Smart Fortwo is exclusively offered with an electric motor and marketed as a city car, but its limited range has proven to be a burden as buyers seek more freedom from their EVs.
The brand’s best year came in 2004 when it sold 4,080 units in Canada. Last year, Smart sold just 264 models. As for Geely, the company has been credited with the rebirth of Volvo while continuing to be a premier automaker in China.
We’re guessing Daimler investors have their fingers cross this deal goes through.
Smart ForEase Concept Images Gallery