Daimler's Smart Will Kill Its Internal Combustion Engines Before Year's End

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

It would appear that the Smart money is literally on electric cars. Daimler says it plans to stop selling combustion-engined Smart models in North America entirely. If you live in the United States or Canada and want a goofy gas-powered mini car, you’d better buy one now.

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler has issued a letter to dealers explaining that the sale of Smart cars with gasoline engines will stop when the 2017 model year ends this fall.

“Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio,” Exler wrote in the letter obtained by Reuters. “A dedicated focus on the electric drive in the U.S. and Canada provides a logical step to support a sustainable, zero emissions future.”

According to Daimler, the change does not apply to other markets outside North America, where small cars sales haven’t weakened quite so badly. In fact, Smart’s European sales have bounced back sharply after a five-year slump that began in 2010. Last year was particularly good for the company across the pond, but the brand continued to flounder in both the United States and Canada.

Mercedes-Benz sold 8,086 Smart cars in North America last year, thanks largely to consistently lower gasoline prices and decreasing interest in small cars. Meanwhile, electric cars remain a niche but consistently growing segment. Despite the limitations of having a diminished range and no backseat, Smart’s Fortwo Electric Drive should remain the preeminent vehicle for on-street parking in the country’s densest cities.

Daimler has updated the little EV’s styling and battery for 2017. While the previous Smart EV petered out at 68 miles, the new model is is expected to be capable of a more-livable range close to 100 miles when it arrives this spring.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Feb 15, 2017

    Also several Fiat 500e models for under $6k, with less than 30,000 miles.

  • Craiger Craiger on May 02, 2017

    Where are you going to charge the batteries if you live in a dense urban environment? I say this as a lifelong New York City resident.

  • Slavuta "The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway"My v6 Highlander did 31 over 10 hour highway trip
  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
  • Bd2 Too bad gm didn't make the C8 better looking to begin with...
  • GregLocock Not interested at all. Apparently I've got Apple car play but I've never used it in 3 years. The built in nav is ok.