China's Geely buys British electric-vehicle startup Emerald Automotive

Zhejiang Geely Holding Company, China's largest independent car maker, has acquired British electric-vehicle start up Emerald Automotive, for an undisclosed sum.

electric vehicleThe acquisition comes after Geely bought Manganese Bronze Holdings, the maker of the London black cabs in 2013 for around $18.5 million (See: China syndrome: Geely to take over iconic London taxi cab maker), Sweden's Volvo Car in 2010 for $1.8 billion (China Geely completes $1.8-bn acquisition of Ford's Volvo Cars),  and troubled Australian car parts maker Drivetrain Systems International in 2009 (China's Geely buys bankrupt Australian parts maker).

Although Geely did not disclose the financial terms of the Emerald deal, the Zhejiang-based carmaker said that it will invest a minimum of $200 million over the next five years to develop Emerald's range of electric vehicles.

Emerald has yet to start producing any electric vehicle, but plans to set up its plant in Hazelwood in US state of Missouri to develop two models of electric delivery vans.

Under the deal, Geely will go ahead with Emerald's plan of building the plant at Hazelwood, and maintain Emerald's existing loans with the Missouri Technology Corp and city of Hazelwood.

A $5-million loan agreement from the state of Missouri and the city of Hazelwood requires Emerald to build 4,000 T-001 delivery vans locally by the end of 2017, and create 300 jobs.

Andy Tempest, Emerald's CEO, said in a statement, ''This is a fantastic opportunity which will allow us to expand our current vehicle development work in line with Geely Group's global vision.''

''As people want a better standard of living, they demand better service,'' he said, adding that in China, taxis were still in the early stages of development. ''We need better cars and better taxi services,'' said Victor Yang, a spokesman for Geely.

Yang said Geely had plans to develop new energy vehicles for London Taxi first and would look to targeting taxi fleets in other markets in the future, including China.

Geely is one of the Chinese car makers that acquires struggling overseas counterparts in order to secure advanced technologies and access to new markets.

A Fortune Global 500 company with annual sales of $4 billion, Geely has a total annual production capacity of 625,000 units of vehicle per shift, and sells through 981 dealers in China.

The company also exports its products through 37 sales agents, and 43 sales and service outlets in 37 overseas markets, mainly to developing countries in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Central and South America.