Daimler Starts Production of Electric-Powered Smart Beating BMW

Daimler AG, the third-biggest maker of luxury vehicles, started sales and production of its first mass-market electric car today, beating Bayerische Motoren Werke AG with the introduction of an emission-free model.

Daimler began assembly of the Smart Fortwo electric drive at a factory in Hambach, France, which is being upgraded for more than 200 million euros ($251 million), the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said in an emailed statement. Deliveries will start later this year.

“We are making significant investments in the Hambach site” for the electric-powered Smart and the next generation of the city car, Annette Winkler, head of the Daimler’s small-car brand, said in the statement. “I am convinced that this is money extremely well invested.”

The electric version of the two-seater, which is built on the same production line as counterparts with combustion engines, has a range of 145 kilometers (90 miles) before needing to be recharged.

Daimler offers the electric vehicles starting at 18,910 euros, with the battery rented separately for 65 euros a month. Including the battery, the car is priced from 23,680 euros.

Munich-based BMW plans to introduce the electric-powered i3 next year. The model will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany, and will mark the first large-scale battery-powered BMW.

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