Now that most automakers are restarting production and restructuring their organizations in order to make up for the negative effects of the coronavirus, some companies are fast-tracking plans that have been in the pipeline months from now. Daimler has just announced that they will be investing heavily in future technology in the coming years, with the goal of CO₂-neutral mobility.
Development isn't cheap and with application across production lines, training personnel, and supplying the parts, the costs add up significantly for electrification and digitalization of vehicles and company processes. A serious realignment and review of the company's global production network are in order, with Daimler looking at starting talks on the sale of its car assembly plant in Hambach, France. The same plant that has been producing Smart cars for years.
Chairman of the Board of Management of Damiler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, Ola Källenius, stated that the drive to transform the company and products are moving forward as quickly as possible. "In light of future high investments, especially in electrification and digitalization, we are consistently implementing measures to increase efficiency.
"This affects all areas of the company worldwide. In addition, the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic on the economy are creating new framework conditions in the market and in this context, we are optimizing our global production network. That is why we intend to start talks on the sale of the Hambach plant.”
The future of Smart:
Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Daimler Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars COO, has also commented by saying that this phase of economic challenge needs a balance of demand and capacity. "These changes also affect the Hambach plant. An important goal for us is to secure the future of the location. Another condition: The current Smart models will continue to be produced in Hambach.”
Opened in October of 1997, the Hambach plant has been producing the fourth generation of Smart EVs with the Smart EQ Fortwo and the Smart EQ Fortwo Cabrio since 2019. The site employs about 1,600 employees and has produced more than 2.2 million Smart Fortwos.