By on September 28, 2018

Image: Daimler

The Smart (“smart,” officially) experiment continues in North America, only now it’s electric. While the Daimler division has never offered anything other than a single, two-seat model on this side of the Atlantic, Europeans have a modicum of choice when it comes to choosing a Smart. You can even get one with a backseat.

After going the all-electric route in the U.S. last year, Smart wants its small legion of global fans to know it’s thinking of the future. Hence, the ForTwo Electric Drive became the ForEase.

Scheduled to be unveiled in Paris next week, the ForEase is a ForTwo-based speedster concept powered solely by electricity, hopefully with a longer range than what its siblings see today.

As it’s just a concept, you’ll likely never have to worry about keeping the rain out of this pint-sized runabout. This open-top, minimalist vehicle previews the future of the brand, Smart claims, drawing attention to the model’s “unconventional beauty, lightness and energy.” Alrighty. Those truncated B-Pillars (chopped and turned into rollover hoops), combined with the vestigial nose added for the model’s third generation, makes this ForTwo derivative the closest thing to a three-box design we’ve seen from Smart.

Maybe it’s just a longer, single box.

Image: Daimler

As Smart already sells the ForTwo Cabrio, expect this bodystyle to remain a conceptual idea, though some styling cues will likely make their way into future vehicles. After all, the aggressive vents in the restyled front fascia and sporty rear bumper scream “power!” — even if the vehicle’s size shouts “ack, a mouse!”

It’s worthwhile to wonder whether Smart has a future in North America. Appearing on these shores years after going into production in Europe (Smart’s celebrating its 20th anniversary this year), the novel automobile dwindled in popularity as gas became cheaper, vehicles grew larger, and state-mandated efficiency rose by a considerable degree. The early automated transmission was a dismal piece of machinery. Older models proved susceptible to engine fires.

Smart solved both of those problems by going all-EV, but it couldn’t improve on the practicality of a lone, tiny, two-seat vehicle with next to no cargo volume. Over the first eight months of 2018, some 861 Smart ForTwos found new homes in the States. Every single Fiat model outsold the ForTwo in 2018. In Canada, 236 Smarts left joint Smart-Mercedes-Benz dealers, but, like their American counterparts, didn’t drive more than 58 miles before their owners stopped to plug them in.

[Image: Daimler AG]

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10 Comments on “Brand That Looks at Fiat With Envy in the U.S. Previews Its Future...”

  • avatar

    So, a motorcycle without the fun.

  • avatar

    Took a job selling those heaps of crap right after college years ago. I hated every single day of it and would often tell people NOT to buy the car because they were straight up garbage. Seriously, lease returns would come back after 2-3 years and they’d literally be falling apart rattle traps. After I left they removed the entire smart section of the dealership.

    • 0 avatar

      COMPLETELY agree. The most horrifying pile of dogsht ever sold by Mercedes. Disgrace.

    • 0 avatar

      I was out with my ex-sister-in-law and we were test driving cars at a local Toyota dealership. She was eyeing the Scion xD (or whichever was the basis for the Aston Martin Cygnet) and the dealer made a side comment that all Smart cars have to be shipped to Milwaukee for service. Is there any truth to this?

      • 0 avatar

        Nope. The Mercedes techs fixed them. The other funny thing about that job was the people buying them for under $14,000 and expecting the same red carpet treatment as high end six figure Mercedes buyers in the service dept. The people that bought them were always a little off to put it nicely as well. No “sane” person bought that car.

      • 0 avatar

        Aston Martin Cygnet was a Smart Fortwo, however Scion made a wannabe version called the iQ.

  • avatar

    Isn’t Smart made by Swatch, Swiss watchmaker? I mean what do you expect besides of Swiss arrogance?

    • 0 avatar

      The original concept did indeed involve Swatch, but Mercedes soon took full control.

      It was part of a fin de siècle trend in Europe for small tall cars that gave us the Smart, Audi A2, original A class, euro Ford Fusion (a tall Fiesta rather than the midsize sedan), even Rover’s engineers had similar plans for the new MINI (the Spiritual concept looked like a Smart 2 door and 4 door, before BMW decided it was to be a sports hatch instead. BMW sat it out and waited for the EV revolution to launch the i3).

  • avatar

    The 4 door ‘backseat’ Smart is based on the small Renault Twingo (something of a successor to the original 4/5 models once the Clio 5 replacement got bigger), rear engined rear wheel drive tiny cars…

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