Car tycoon says Daimler investment to serve Geely, China interests

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2018, 3:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 March, 2018, 3:03pm

Chinese auto tycoon Li Shufu said his recent US$9 billion investment in Daimler was all about helping his company and the country.

The founder and chairman of Geely Automobile became the largest single shareholder in Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler last month after purchasing a 9.7 per cent stake in Daimler, via open market transactions.

It was reported that Geely was keen to access Daimler’s electric car battery technology, and was hoping to set up an electric car joint venture with the German auto giant in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.

Chinese billionaire Li Shufu is now biggest single stakeholder in Daimler

“Everything we do serves the development of Geely as well as China’s automaking industry in general,” Li was quoted saying in an interview with Zhejiang Daily, when asked about the share deal.

Separately, Li said in Beijing on Tuesday that cars of the future will be electric and smart enough to independently handle any “inconvenience” involved in owning one.

“Although cars can delight our life with convenience, owning one can also be troublesome,” he said on sidelines of the annual gathering of China’s top advisory body.

“However, this won’t be the case in the future when cars will be able to self-drive to a car park or charging station and get a tune-up done automatically.” Li added that he expects cars to become smarter as part of the industry’s shift to electric vehicles. “All cars will ultimately be powered by new energies of various forms,” he said.

Geely buys US start-up Terrafugia and promises a flying car by 2019

Li, a delegate to the National People’s Congress (NPC), proposed to the legislative body an acceleration of the development of methanol-fuelled vehicles in the world’s largest auto market.

Supportive government policies are needed at the early-stage of market development for such vehicles, including establishment of demonstration zones and encouragement for research and development, according to Li’s proposal to the NPC.

Geely has been at the forefront of methanol cars, with a plant in northern Shanxi province with capacity to produce 100,000 units a year. The company has shipped more than 3,000 methanol-fuelled cars since 2013, according to Shanghai Securities News.

“The internal combustion engine will certainly disappear over the long term,” said Li, adding that even for hybrid cars, engines will be intelligently controlled for improved efficiency and reduced emissions.

“The automobile industry worldwide will see huge innovation opportunities as well as challenges from non-auto players. To take advantage of this opportunity, we need to refresh our thinking and forge alliances with partners to take the technological high ground through synergy and sharing.”

The Daimler investment the latest move in Geely’s “go global” strategy, after the Chinese carmaker bought Volvo Cars in 2010 from Ford Motor Company before moving to acquire a 49.9 per cent stake in Malaysian carmaker Proton, a 51 per cent stake in iconic British sports car brand Lotus Cars and more recently a full takeover of the then distressed London Taxi Company.

Last year Geely opened a new electric black cab factory in Britain, while it also bought US start-up Terrafugia, which claims it will develop a flying car within the next two years.