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Brabus will expand its joint venture with Smart

Bottrop, Germany. The Mercedes car tuning company Brabus will expand its joint venture with Smart, DaimlerChrysler's minicar brand.

Smart-Brabus has opened a new technology and engineering center in Bottrop, Germany, to boost production of customized Smart models.

The center is also the new head office of the 50/50 joint venture between Smart and Brabus. Which was launched two years ago.

The center's focal point is a manufacturing hall where up to 2,000 Smarts can built a year along with single-edition models.

Last year 5,000 Smart-Brabus models were built including 2,000 Brabus ForTwos at Bottrop and the rest at Smart's plant in Hambach, France.

This year Smart-Brabus plans to manufacture 2,500 Brabus ForTwos and 1,700 Brabus Roadster/Coupe models at the Hambach plant.

Brabus will build 3,000 units of the ForFour starting in 2005.

Bodo Buschmann, Brabus' managing director, said the new Bottrop center will start at 1,100 units a year.

The number of Smart-Brabus employees will double to 120.

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