At the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show, Daimler used the occasion for their smart brand to introduce what they say will be “an extremely limited special edition” street legal production version of the smart fortwo by fashion designer Jeremy Scott known as the smart forjeremy, first shown as a concept at the Los Angeles show late last year. Also at this year’s Shanghai show, Buick introduced their latest Riviera concept, a product of GM’s Chinese design studio. 2013 is the 50th anniversary of the first Riviera, introduced on October 4, 1962 as a 1963 model.
The Renault Twin-Z concept, shown here, was unveiled at a Milanese furniture show (seriously) but is said to preview the next-generation Twingo. The five-door concept clearly takes its styling inspiration from the Volkswagen Up!, but there will be a crucial packaging difference – the Twingo will be rear-engined, since it shares a common chassis with the next-generation Smart car.
One of the more interesting bits of news this week comes from France; the next-generation Smart Forfour (big brother of the worst car on sale today, as voted by the readership) will share a common architecture with the adorable Renault Twingo.
Ladies and Gentleman, TTAC is glad to announce the winners of the Ten Worst Automobiles Today, as voted by you, the reader. The Smart Fortwo took the top spot – but what about the others?
Smart asked fashion designer Jeremy Scott to come up with a special version of the smart fortwo electric car. Much to the horror of Daimler engineers who were used to fashion designers submitting patches of interior materials and color schemes, Jeremy Scott did put his trademark on the car: Wings, sprouting on both sides, and likely wreaking havoc with the CW coefficient. (Read More…)
My two weeks in Europe has drawn to a close, and I’m back at my familiar desk, in front of my familiar computer, catching up on all the automotive happenings I missed, contemplating my transition out of TTAC’s day-to-day leadership, and reflecting on all I saw over my whirlwind two weeks. And though you haven’t heard from me much in the last two weeks, rest assured that I have not forgotten TTAC, nor have I missed any opportunities to accumulate impressions from the automotive landscape of modern Europe.
Scion is quite sure of one thing: the new iQ is a much better car than the smart fortwo. What they’re much less sure of: how many of the targeted fine young North American urbanites will buy one rather than periodically use Zipcar. I’m neither young nor urban, but I’m going to do my best to pretend. Why might I buy this car—or not?
Under Penske management, the Smart minicar brand sold fewer than 6,000 vehicles last year, capping a sales decline that led Mercedes to take back management duties for the brand. And, according to the new folks in charge of Smart, there’s only one real problem with the brand: awareness. Or, more precisely, lack thereof. We’ve heard this song before from Smart’s new GM, but now Ernst Lieb, boss of Mercedes U.S.A., is picking up the tune, telling Automotive News [sub] that
With the marketing activities that we’re going to have, we’ll see some positive momentum. The biggest problem the car has right now: Nobody knows it.
Which, of course, is nonsense. Nonsense that allows you to appear aware of the sales problem without acknowledging a single problem with the product itself, but nonsense none the less. And Smart’s not the only micro-car brand that’s reaching for it either, as Fiat-Chrysler marketing boss Olivier Francois has the exact same excuse for Fiat’s weak start, telling AdAge
I don’t think we have a car problem; people love the car. I think we have an awareness problem.
Are Americans incapable of seeing, recognizing or being aware of anything that weighs less than 3,000 lbs? Or is it possible that there are a few things wrong with the Smart and 500?
At the Frankfurt Motor Show (13 – 25 September 2011), Daimler will show a bicycle. A lot of manufacturers have shown two-wheeled design studies at shows. This one will go on sale. In Frankfurt, you will see a “near-series version of the smart ebike,” as Daimler’s press release says. The ebike will be launched in the first half of 2012 and will initially be marketed by dealers in Europe and North America. (Read More…)
It will come as no surprise to regular TTAC readers when I say that Scion has had some sales issues lately. But instead of euthanizing the brand as some on TTAC have suggested, Toyota has decided to take a different route. Thankfully, rather than creating more me-too models based off of US-market Toyotas, the plan includes some JDM/Euro models and the much anticipated “Toyobaru “sports car. The first object of foreign desire landing stateside to start off Scion’s resurrection is the Toyota iQ micro-car. The iQ should be in showrooms across the country soon, but does Scion have the IQ to make a smarter Smart?
With sales of its aging city car circling the toilet, Roger Penske’s Smart USA has reached a deal with Nissan to sell a Smart-branded version of a Nissan-developed four-door B-segment car, likely the Versa. Though Penske’s organization apparently pushed for and announced the deal, and the model will be exclusive to the US, the Detroit News calls the move “part of the growing cooperation between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG.” Penske says
We are proud to be a partner with both Daimler and Nissan, two companies focused on bringing high-quality, fuel-efficient products to the U.S. market
If you exist outside the fast-paced world of the automotive branding community, you might believe that the point of car brands is to sell cars. Needless to say, you’d be wrong. The big buzzword around car brands, particularly the more niche and eco-friendly brands is “mobility.” As in “we must leverage our brand values to provide a broad-based mobility strategy for the cities of the future.” Or, to put it into layman’s terms, “screw cars, we gotta start building scooters.”
Smart is such a nice little word. It has so many different meanings. So it’s fun to play with and show just how smart you really are. For example, I could have titled this post: Smart Makes Smart Car for Smart People with Smart Money. Or: Smart Makes Smart Car Move. Or even: Smart Makes Smart Marketing Moves. However, I´ll stick with the title as is since Smart is proving itself so smart in the Brazilian market. In more ways than one. One of the synonyms for Smart is “on the ball.” (Read More…)