Days of the current generation smart EQ fortwo are limited, so the plant is for sale.
Mercedes-Benz announced that it intends to sell its smart car assembly plant in Hambach, France “to streamline its global production network”.
The plant is quite new, as it launched operations on October 27, 1997 and was engaged to produce smart EQ fortwo and the smart EQ fortwo Cabrio. Cumulatively, more than 2.2 million smart fortwo were produced in Hambach, but soon around 1,600 employees will have to find a new job.
“Mercedes-Benz AG… will heavily invest in the transformation of the company in the coming years. The company is focusing on the electrification of its product range, as well as the digitalization of vehicles and company processes. At the same time, the company has taken numerous measures to sustainably improve its cost structure and become significantly more efficient. An important lever for this is the adjustment and realignment of capacity within its global production network. Against this backdrop, the company intends to start talks on the sale of its car assembly plant in Hambach, France.”
The smart brand overall was unprofitable and has generated several billion in losses accumulated in the past 20 years. The switch to BEVs and retiring from North America did not make a difference. We guess it’s still unprofitable.
The German manufacturer decided to unload smart, at least partially, through the partnership with Geely in 2019. In Janurary 2020, the two formally established a global 50:50 joint venture “smart Automobile Co., Ltd.” for the smart brand.
The first joint product will be launched in 2022. The next-generation smart electric cars will be designed by the “worldwide Mercedes-Benz Design network”, but engineered by “Geely global engineering centers”, as well as produced at a new purpose-built electric car factory in China.
This means that the European manufacturing of smart is coming to an end anyway:
2020 smart EQ fortwo (Cabrio) 2020 smart EQ forfour
2020 smart EQ forfour
At some point in 2018 there was a chance to bring a new all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQ compact model to Hambach, but the €500 million investment was then canceled.
Mercedes-Benz EQA concept
The next question is who may be interested in the Hambach plant these days, when the economy and the automotive market is more challenging than ever?
Maybe the new owner will utilize the plant to produce some new EVs?
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