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Swatch Group Sells Smart Car Stake

November 4, 1998

BIEL, Switzerland (AP) _ Switzerland’s Swatch Group has sold its 19 percent stake in the Smart Car project to German automaker Daimler-Benz, its partner in the venture.

Neither Daimler nor Swatch provided terms of the transaction. A German newspaper, Wirtschaftswoche, put the value at $70 million.

The tiny two-seat Smart Car was developed by Micro Compact Car AG, a joint venture between Daimler-Benz and Swatch Group, the Swiss manufacturer of the Swatch wristwatch.

The Smart Car takes up about half of a standard parking spot. With its bright yellow and red colors, mix-and-match replaceable parts and all-plastic body, it is aimed at a young market.

Swatch’s decision to sell its stake in the venture gives Daimler full control of Micro Compact Car.

Swatch said it decided to sell its stake because the venture decided against using Swatch’s hybrid motor technology.

Micro Compact Car will pay unspecified compensation to Swatch, which may later license its technology to Daimler which is near completion of its purchase of the U.S. automaker Chrysler Corp.

The Smart Car went on sale across Europe last month. It is on sale in Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Austrian, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg in special ``Smart Centers,″ which bypass normal auto dealers.

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