automotive industry

Daimler sells French Smart factory to Britain’s Ineos

Agence France-Presse, Agence France-Presse
Daimler sells French Smart factory to Britain’s Ineos

DAIMLER. In this file photo taken on September 3, 2008, some Smart 'ForTwo' by Daimler are displayed outside the Hambach factory.

Photo by Patrick Hertzog/AFP

Some 1,300 jobs at the Hambach plant will be preserved under the deal, says Daimler

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler has sold its Smart car factory in northeast France to Britain’s Ineos, which will use it to build a 4×4, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday, December 8.

Some 1,300 jobs at the site will be preserved under the deal, Daimler said in a statement.

For the remaining 200 employees at the Hambach plant, “solutions have been found,” a spokesman for the French industry ministry told Agence France-Presse, adding that no jobs were being shed.

“We have found a sustainable solution for Hambach which offers the site a clear future perspective,” said Markus Schaefer, Daimler’s head of research.

Petrochemicals firm Ineos had initially said it planned to build the Grenadier off-roader, its first foray into the automotive industry, in Wales.

But this summer it said it was considering buying Daimler’s plant at Hambach instead.

“We simply could not ignore the unique opportunity offered by Hambach, namely the purchase of a modern automotive production plant with an exceptional workforce,” Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe said.

German auto giant Daimler caused surprise when it announced it was putting the factory up for sale to try to cut costs in the face of losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will continue production of an electric-drive Smart and part of a new electric Mercedes SUV at the site until 2024, the source in Hambach said.

France’s industry minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher welcomed the news as an “important step that will enable industrial activity in Hambach to be sustained.”

The carmaker’s departure from Hambach marks the end of an era that began with great fanfare in 1997, when then-German chancellor Helmut Kohl and French president Jacques Chirac inaugurated a plant to produce a mini two-seater city car. – Rappler.com