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

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
daimlers smart will kill its internal combustion engines before years end

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]

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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.

  • SCE to AUX Let it die with dignity - no electrification. That would kill the spirit of the original.Mazda needs to think about survival and market share, not tinker with a niche car with waning sales, or dying on Wankel Hill.Maybe their body and paint engineers could help Tesla once Mazda folds.
  • Lou_BC H-E-L-L-C-A-T
  • EBFlex "EBFlex speaks more truth."It's sometimes a burden being right all the time.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Add a couple of more body styles. A coupe with a vestigial rear seat like the BRZ along with a shooting brake version would appeal to a number of drivers who want something sporty but not a hatchback or crossover.
  • Theflyersfan It's the mother of all "ifs" - if Mazda gets the small rotary/hybrid combo going, I can see them using that in the next MX-5. Can they keep it under 2500 lbs and somewhat affordable? Not sure...this is why I don't run a car company! But if they want to replace it around 2025, and it's 2023 now, they need to get started very soon with some rumors and leaks to keep us going. But with the rest of their lineup going greener in next generations, and Mazda selling under 10,000 MX-5s per year, how does it really impact any average emissions and fuel economy ratings? If they can keep tweaking the Skyactiv-G engine for better fuel economy and fewer emissions, they should be able to get the NE generation using gasoline before being forced to go EV or hybrid with the NF. The mission of the MX-5 is light, affordable, open air fun and it's their halo car. And while I agree that EVs are going to be a much larger part of the future, the "all things by 2035 or 2040 or so on" edicts have "kick the can down the road" written in massive font size 1,000 written all over them. We'll be on gas for a while longer - just continue to eke more mpg out of what we have.All that being said, if they were to put the turbo Skyactiv-G engine in the MX-5 for 2024 and make it a Mazdaspeed model, I'd put a deposit on it right now. I love mine, but if it gets bumped up from 181hp to 250-275hp, it would be a flat out riot to drive.