BOTTROP, Germany -- A joint venture between Smart and Brabus will open a new 16-million design and production center here in September.
The center has new engine test stands and capacity to build special-edition series of Smart cars in batches of 500 to 1,000 vehicles.
The number of employees will rise from 35 to 120 at the facility, which is a joint venture between the DaimlerChrysler subsidiary and German tuner specialist Brabus.
"In the future there will be a top-line Brabus version of each of the Smart series," said joint venture boss Bodo Buschmann at the launch of new Brabus versions of the Smart City Coupe and Convertible.
The new two-seaters are fitted with modified engines and transmissions - due to smaller dimensions for the exhaust the engines only have 75hp instead of 82hp - and are currently manufactured in the Smart plant in Hambach, France.
All exterior and interior components, exhaust systems and small components are supplied by Brabus. Production began in February and has risen to 80 Brabus models per week.
At the beginning of 2004 a 110hp roadster will be launched. A more powerful version of the future Smart four-seat "Forfour" is also planned for next year.