smart roadster to Project Kimber – AC Midget?
DaimlerChrysler stopped production of the diminutive smart roadster and roadster coupe at the end of September 2005. Launched in 2003, the roadster only lasted about two years. The tiny tiny microsportscars did not achieve the volumes needed to reach profitability. You wonder what kind of research DaimlerChrysler did to justify the investment in the smart roadster and roadster coupe?
Like many brands and vehicles that refuse to die, it appears that there are folks that want to resurrect the smart roadster. With DaimlerChrysler taking the hit on the investment on the roadster and roadster coupe, the vehicle can be purchased for a song.
Project Kimber and the smart roadster
Project Kimber is an acquisition group, run by Lord David James, that was founded to buy the assets of the MG Rover group but lost out to Nanjing Automobile and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC). Project Kimber is searching for funding with Grant Gazdig’s Access Capital firm, a private equity firm – European American Securities, and other investors from continental Europe, Hong Kong, Britain and America. While purchase of the tooling, car, etc from DaimlerChrysler may require about £13 million, the total investment would be on the order of £60 milion.
In 2006, it was reported that Lord James had entered talks with MG Rover’s new owners (this time Nanjing – that owns the MG name) to buy the MG brand in order to produce a number of sports cars based on the smart roadster.
On Friday February 17, 2006, The London Times reported that Lord James was in discussions with DaimlerChrysler to buy the roadster’s design, technology and equipment for approximately £13 million.
The initial plan was that the roadster equipment would be then transferred from the smart factory in Germany to a former Dunlop tire factory in Coventry where the roadster would be built under the MG brand.
As of 19th July 2006, the Welsh Assembly Government confirmed that production of the new roadster could be based in South Wales. In an August 27, 2006 report, The London Times reported that three sites are under consideration: a soon-to-close Panasonic factory at Port Talbot, a greenfield site near Bridgend, and a partly completed factory owned by the aforementioned Welsh Assembly.
Kimber believes that they can be profitable with sales approaching 8,000 units per year.
Use of the MG brand, however, has not been attained, with a possibilty of the car being badged with the AC badge from the AC Cobra. AC “Midget” has been floated as the nomenclature for the car.
Negotiations are underway with resolution expected by the end of September 2005