The revival of Smart has taken an interesting turn. The brand is supposed to ditch the playful city cars for a more serious electric SUV this year. Now, equal partners in making that happen, Mercedes-Benz and Geely, want some extra help in the form of a third partner and up to a billion dollars.
Back in 2019 Mercedes-Benz and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. joined forces. Their 50/50 partnership is supposed to usher in a new era of Smart where its cars are more appealing to wider audiences. Along the way, its new SUV will shed Smart’s playful image for something more “premium.” Now, as Bloomberg reports, the pair want more money to make it happen.
Mercedes-Benz and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. may be looking to get in bed with a third partner. The plan? Use the extra cash to further the mission of making Smart all-electric, from Bloomberg:
Smart could seek about $US500 ($694) million to $US1 ($1.4) billion in fresh funds by selling a minority stake in the venture, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. A private fundraising deal for Smart, which is currently valued at roughly $US5 ($7) billion, could attract interest from other carmakers and strategic investment funds, the people said.
The venture will use the proceeds to boost its brand as an electric-vehicle maker, the people said.
The news is a little surprising because combining resources to save money was part of why Mercedes joined up with Geely in the first place.
Smart is known for its history of not making its Mercedes parent much money. The company burned so many billions in its early years that it was liquidated in 2006 before it could launch its first planned SUV, the Formore. Smart went back to just building a single model in 2007 before expanding to two models in 2014.
Despite the new cars being better than the old ones, the sales response was relatively lukewarm.
Sadly, we still don’t know too much about the SUV set to release this year. We know what the SUV will look like and that it will be built in China, riding on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) electric platform. It will also be sized like a Mini Countryman.
However, details like exact range, power and price remain under wraps. Carscoops spotted a mule out on the road and it seems that the production version may look like the concept.
Meanwhile, production of the Smart Forfour has ended in Slovenia. When production of the Fortwo ends at Smart’s factory in France, manufacturing will move to China.
And before you ask, no, Smart still isn’t coming back to America. The SUV sounds like it could work here, but as of now Smart doesn’t appear to want to try again.