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Geely and Mercedes-Benz seeking outside investors for Smart – report

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Sources have told Bloomberg Smart is looking to raise between US$500 million and US$1 billion ($710 million to $1.4 billion) from outside investors by selling a minority stake in automaker.

Money raised will be used to help develop and launch Smart’s upcoming range of Chinese-made electric vehicles.

Currently Smart is preparing to launch a new generation of city-friendly EVs. It gave a glimpse of what it has planned with the Concept 1 launched at last year’s Munich motor show.

At around 4.2m long, the production version of the Concept 1 will easily be the largest vehicle to ever wear the Smart badge.

Smart was founded in 1994 as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz — then known as Daimler — and Swatch. As development costs for the brand’s city car rose, Daimler took a majority stake and then full ownership of the firm.

The Smart Coupe was launched in 1998, but despite the addition of new models and variants, the brand never achieved its ambitious goal of 200,000 sales per year.

Geely stunned the world in 2018 by purchasing nearly 10 per cent of Daimler, and becoming the German automaker’s largest single shareholder.

In addition to being Daimler’s second largest stakeholder (Chinese BAIC Group is now narrowly the largest), Geely also owns the Volvo, Lotus, Lynk & Co, Polestar, Proton and LEVC brands.

A year later, Daimler sold a 50 per cent stake in Smart to Geely as part of a deal to guarantee the loss-making brand’s future.

As part of the new joint venture Mercedes-Benz is responsible for styling, and Geely the engineering and production of Smart’s next generation of vehicles.

Smart’s new cars will be built in China, and exported around the world.

The brand’s factory in Hambach, France, was sold to Ineos. The chemicals maker will use the plant to manufacture its new Grenadier SUV, as well as producing Smart’s ForTwo model range for the time being.

MORE: Which brand owns which, and how did we get here?

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