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French to Build Smart fortwo Electric Vehicle

Daimler will invest an undisclosed amount to add EV production.

by on Oct.09, 2009

smart plant in Hambach, France selected as the location for the large-scale series production of the smart fortwo electric drive - announcement made on the occasion of the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, with Dieter Zetsche, right, at the EV announcement.

Daimler AG says that the Smart plant in Hambach, France, will make Smart fortwo electric cars. Starting in 2012, the EV powered by lithium-ion-batteries will be available through the Smart sales network.

The announcement was made during an official visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Hambach plant this week.

If electric vehicles makes sense anywhere in the world — and that is debatable — it is in France, which uses nuclear power to produce most of its electricity. In the U.S. burning coal provides most of the electricity and huge amounts of carbon dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases.

“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,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

“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,” Zetsche said.

Daimler will invest an undisclosed amount at the Hambach plant to add EV production. French taxpayers will provide subsidies.

President Sarkozysaid 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. These incentives will total 15% of the undisclosed investment, which is thought to be about 1000 million Euros.

In November 2009, the plant will make about 1,000 EVs. These vehicles will be used by customers participating in various mobility projects incities in Europe and the U.S., in order to generate additional feedback from their use under everyday conditions.

As viewers of are aware, impending European carbon dioxide regulations are prompting virtually all automakers to develop electric vehicles, if only to get taxpayer subsidies or earn credits so that larger, less efficient vehicles can remain in production.