Daimler move signifies growing importance of Chinese market
GERMANY Daimler AG and its Chinese partner Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC) have signed a Letter of Intent in Stuttgart, which further deepens the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two companies.
The Letter of Intent was signed by Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC, Han Yonggui, president of BAIC, Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, head of Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, and Ulrich Walker, chairman and CEO of Daimler Northeast Asia in the presence of Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, during his visit to Daimler’s plant in Sindelfingen. Ji Lin, executive vice mayor of Beijing, Dr. Nils Schmid, deputy state premier and minister of finance and economics of the state of Baden-Württemberg and Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes- Benz Cars, were also present at the signing ceremony.
The Letter of Intent states both sides are to evaluate additional initiatives at corporate level as well as to support each other with further investments. BAIC and Daimler will jointly analyse the possibilities of technological cooperation as well as co-operation in research and development of new energy vehicles to improve the competitiveness of both partners in China.
As one of China’s largest automotive manufacturers, BAIC Group sold 1.5 million vehicles last year. Both parties have already established a long term strategic partnership including significant investments in the Chinese automotive industry over the past years.
The new Letter of Intent is another step in both parties’ successful co-operation and builds on a strategic framework agreement which was signed in June this year in the presence of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Both partners agreed to invest two billion euros in the Joint Venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co, Ltd. (BBAC). BBAC is currently producing Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class sedans and will be expanded to include the GLK compact SUV as of 2011 as well as three models of the new generation of Mercedes-Benz premium compact cars.
From 2013, a new engine plant will produce 4-cylinder gasoline engines, which will be used in locally produced Mercedes-Benz passenger cars and vans.
A new R&D center at BBAC will be established, which will mainly focus on vehicle testing and adaptation as well as R&D activities with suppliers.