smart fortwo production at HambachFrance - Mercedes-Benz has announced that its Hambach plant will produce a new compact electric car under the EQ brand - it's electric vehicle (EV) family. In order to ready the facility, a total of €500m (US$588.14m) will be spent on a new body shop and surface treatment system, while the site's infrastructure will be expanded and adapted.

"20 years ago we started an exemplary German-Franco project with the production of the smart in Hambach," recalled Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "Now we take the next step and for the first time in our more than 100-year old history we bring the production of Mercedes-Benz to France. With the compact EQ model from Hambach we continue our electric initiative."

The plant currently makes two electric vehicles (EVs) - the smart EQ fortwo coupe and fortwo cabrio - as well as numerous other smart cars that use internal combustion engines. To date, about 2m smart fortwo's have rolled off the assembly line in Hambach since it was established in 1997.

Mercedes-Benz has big plans for the electrification of its portfolio. It hopes to launch ten new EQ models by 2022, the first of which will be made at its Bremen plant in Germany.

"With the production of a compact electric car in Hambach, we are adding further capacities for our electric initiative at six locations on three continents," explained Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board of management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, production and supply chain. "The smart plant in Hambach will become a part of our global compact car production network with the lead plant Rastatt, Germany." The production network of the new generation of compact cars includes the plant in Kecskemét, Hungary, the Beijing Benz plant in China, the COMPAS plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and the Uusikaupunki plant owned by Finnish manufacturing service provider Valmet Automotive.

For more on Mercedes-Benz and its EV strategy, see the recent AMS interview with Markus Schäfer.