Mercedes-Benz and Chinese car maker Geely have carried out preliminary talks on how the two might co-operate on a series of projects, including future four-cylinder petrol engine and dual-clutch gearbox development, according to senior officials from the German firm. Geely – which has a 9.7% stake in Mercedes parent Daimler and owns brands such as Volvo and Lotus – cemented operational ties with Mercedes’ passenger car division in early 2019, when it agreed to purchase a 50% stake in Smart.
Earlier this month, Mercedes and Geely confirmed they were co-operating on the development of a new Smart SUV. Due in 2022, it is claimed to be among a number of new Smart models set to be made in China by the middle of the decade.
“The initial talks surrounding Smart have led to further internal discussions on whether it would make sense to operate with Geely in other areas, including engine and gearbox development,” a Mercedes source revealed to Drive-My at the recent 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
At this early stage, the talks are described as being constructed around “exploring possibilities rather than anything concrete”. However, with questions surrounding Mercedes’ operational alliance with French car maker Renault, the suggestions are that chairman Ola Källenius could move to forge an ever deeper working relationship with Geely.
Among the areas pinpointed by the Mercedes insider for possible cooperation with Geely are four-cylinder petrol engines and dual-clutch gearboxes for future compact models. These include successor models to today’s A-Class hatchback and saloon, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA and GLB.
As well as working with Geely, Mercedes also operates Chinese-based joint ventures with BAIC (Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation) and Shenzhen-based BYD (Build Your Dreams).
Smart, 50% owned by Geely, will facelift the Fortwo this year