Daimler aims to invest tens of millions of euros in its Hambach plant in the French region of Lorraine to manufacture an electric version of the Smart ForTwo car, powered by a lithium-ion battery.
The company said on Thursday that a small series of 1,000 electric Smarts would be built starting in November and delivered to customers at the earliest by the end of this year, before the vehicles would eventually roll off the plant's assembly lines in 2012 as part of the brand's model line. Daimler said in a press release that French President Nicolas Sakozy plans to support the project through his PAT (Prime d'amenagement du territoire) subsidy program. Further funds could come from the Lorraine region and the Departement de la Moselle.
The measures should comprise roughly 15 percent of the total investments, the carmaker said.
Roughly 800 people are employed in the Hambach plant that built last year about 140,000 Smart ForTwos, with another 800 working at seven system partners.
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner)