July 20, 2006
Wales selected as preferred location for Smart production
New York, New York – Wales has been chosen by Project Kimber, a consortium of international auto executives, as the preferred location for a new assembly plant for the production of its re-branded and re-engineered versions of the Smart roadster and roadster coupe. DaimlerChrysler entered into a Memorandum of Understanding in February for Project Kimber to take over those particular models in the Smart line-up.
The decision, which ends months of speculation, was made by Project Kimber in consultation with prospective investors, and with support from the Welsh Assembly Government’s International Business Wales team. The consortium is looking at a number of suitable sites in South Wales, while undergoing meetings with Smart GmbH and DaimlerChrysler to provide firm contracts to replace the memorandum.
Discussions are under way with potential investors in the U.K. and North America; if these talks proceed according to plan, production is expected to commence around mid-2007, with an initial year’s volume of 8,000 units. The consortium says that a number of factors made Wales the preferred location, including the strength and flexibility of the automotive component supply chain, the availability of a skilled workforce, a significant offer of grant aid, the support of the Welsh government, the level of expertise and R&D capability, and the relevance of the location to the “Britishness” of the re-branded and re-engineered cars.