Daimler picks France to produce Smart ForTwo electric-drive

Smart ForTwo electric-drive

Daimler announced today that it has selected its plant in Hambach, France to produce the Smart ForTwo electric-drive. Starting in 2012, the lithium-ion powered Smart ForTwo will start rolling off the assembly line in Hambach in a “large-scale production and will be offered to customers through the Smart sales network.”

Daimler said that it will invest a “double-digit million euro amount” in Hambach plant for the production.

Starting next month, the plant will produce a small number of about 1,000 units for testing by customers participating in various test projects across Europe and the United States.

The Hambach plant built around 140,000 Smart ForTwo units last year.

Click through for the press release.

Press Release:

Large-scale Series Production of the smart fortwo electric drive to Begin in 2012 in Hambach

– Announcement on the occasion of a visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy
– In just five years from a pilot project to production for customers
– Production of a small series of 1,000 units to begin in November 2009
– Dr. Dieter Zetsche: “žEmission-free driving in an urban environment is already feasible today.”

Daimler AG today announced that it selected the smart plant in Hambach, France, as the location for future series production of the smart fortwo electric drive. As of 2012, the highly innovative electric vehicle, equipped with the most modern lithium-ion-battery, will roll off the assembly line in large-scale production and will be offered to customers through the smart sales network. The announcement was made on the occasion of an official visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Hambach plant.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “žThe smart fortwo electric drive proves that emission-free driving in an urban environment is already feasible today. The initial series production will begin now with 1,000 vehicles, the first of which will be delivered to customers by the end of this year. As of 2012, the smart fortwo electric drive will then be part of the regular product program of the smart brand. With our decision to locate production here at the parent plant in Hambach, we are setting the course both for series production of electric vehicles and for the future of this highly innovative assembly plant”.

Daimler will invest a double-digit million euro amount at the Hambach plant for production of the next generation of the smart fortwo electric drive with lithium-ion-battery. During his visit, President Sarkozy announced that the French government will support the project through its PAT (Prime d’aménagement du territoire) program. Further support is to be extended by the Region Lorraine and the Département de la Moselle. Both these measures will comprise a total of 15 percent of the investment. The president was visiting the plant today to – amongst others – get a first-hand impression of environmentally compatible powertrains of the future.

In November 2009, the plant will start to produce a small series of about 1,000 units of the smart fortwo electric drive. In a first step, these vehicles will be provided to customers participating in various mobility projects in major cities in Europe and the U.S., in order to generate additional feedback from the use under everyday conditions.

As of 2012, the smart fortwo electric drive will be produced in significantly larger volumes as a regular part of the smart product portfolio and will be sold through the smart sales network. smart thus emphazises its pioneering role on the way to individual mobility with local zero-emissions in cities and urban areas.

First Milestones in 2007 and 2008

Since 2007, the smart brand has taken a pioneering role in the electrification of drive systems. Back then, smart started emission-free driving under tough everyday conditions of city traffic in London. 100 smart fortwo electric drives of the first generation have been in practical customer operation. The feedback from this project has been very positive and confirmed the high degree of maturity of this vehicle concept.

Just one year later, the company introduced the second generation with an even more advanced electric drive and an innovative, highly efficient lithium-ion battery. Lithium-ion technology has decisive advantages over other types of batteries including higher performance, shorter charging times, a long life and high reliability. In addition, a smart fortwo electric drive can be charged at a regular household power outlet.

A story of success: The smart Plant in Hambach

The smart plant in Hambach was inaugurated in 1997. Since 1998, it has produced the smart fortwo, since 2007 in its current generation. In 2008, more than 800 employees of the plant and some further 800 people employed by seven system partners produced about 140,000 units of the smart fortwo. In September 2008, the brand celebrated its tenth anniversary along with the 1-millionth smart fortwo produced at the Hambach plant.

The Hambach plant has represented an innovative production concept since its beginning: The assembly line in the shape of a plus sign has been designed to optimally meet the demands of assembly and logistics and ensures highly efficient production processes. This principle enables the system partners to supply modules directly to the assembly line, which reduces transport and logistics efforts to a minimum and hereby also provides an advantage regarding ecological aspects. In addition, the environmentally friendly and cost effective paint shop, an energy concept with numerous savings opportunities and the construction principle of the vehicles ensure that the ecological product responsibility of the smart brand is translated into the production.