FOLLOWING NEWS IN December that Renault and Daimler are in partnership discussions, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has confirmed today a decision is expected mid-year.
Where previously the talks had centred on sharing engine, platform and component costs, recent reports suggest the duo are also discussing options for an expanded Smart line-up and increased production.
Reports in recent weeks say that Daimler and Renault are investigating possibilities for a rear-wheel-drive Smart platform, including a four-seater to replace the cancelled ForFour - built in partnership with Mitsubishi before Daimler sold its stake in the Japanese carmaker.
In an interview early last year with Automotive News, Smart boss Anders-Sundt Jensen confirmed that the company was working on an extended wheelbase for a possible ForFour model. No new information on this project has surfaced in the months since.
Later, images of a much earlier concept appeared online, dubbed 'ForMore' and built on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class platform. Scheduled for a 2005 Frankfurt Auto Show debut, the ForMore project was cancelled before its unveiling.
Speaking with industry paper Automotive News Europe, Mr Zetsche said that developing a next-generation Smart range will depend on finding a suitable partner.
Smart will build around 1000 of its ForTwo ED electric cars in 2010, with 200 to be leased to customers in the US. Daimler Australia is expecting to get the ED within the next five years.