SHENZHEN, China -- Daimler and its Chinese partner BYD Auto say they plan to introduce the production version of their Denza electric car at the Beijing auto show next April.
The car will go on sale next summer, according to Daimler.
Three dealership groups -- Zhongsheng Group Holdings Ltd., Lei Shing Hong Auto (China) Management Co. and Pangda Automobile Trade Co. -- signed agreements last July to sell and service the vehicles.
The first Denza dealership will open in Beijing next summer, followed by stores in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
The joint venture, Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology, was established in 2011 in the south China city of Shenzhen, where BYD is headquartered. The partners have pooled 250 engineers to design the Denza, according to Daimler.
The partners unveiled a concept of the Denza last April at the Shanghai auto show. The concept was based on the old-generation Mercedes B class.
Details about the production car are not available.
China's central government has been pushing Daimler and other foreign automakers to develop EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles with their joint-venture Chinese partners.
BYD is a leading electric vehicle maker in China. Listed in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the company is partly owned by U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett.
On Tuesday, Daimler completed its purchase of a 12 percent stake in Beijing Automotive Group Co. The German company will pay 625 million euros ($845 million) for a share in the passenger-car unit of its Chinese joint-venture partner.
Daimler is keen to strengthen its position in China after losing ground to BMW and Audi in the world's biggest car market. Boosting sales there is crucial to the automaker's plan to overtake both competitors in global deliveries by the end of the decade. Daimler currently ranks third in global premium-car sales behind leader BMW and Audi.
Daimler says it is the first non-Chinese automaker to invest in a Chinese carmaker.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report