Smart Brand in Danger, Report Claims
Pick your jaw up off the floor. The Smart brand, officially spelled with a lowercase “s” that we can’t abide by, is now 20 years old, but seems destined to leave this earth before it has to start worrying about the big three-oh.
Smart’s development partner, Renault, is reportedly entertaining thoughts of leaving the relationship, opening the door to Smart’s death… or substitution.
Sources tell Automobile that Renault plans to hit the bricks once the current co-developed models run their course. Besides the familiar Smart Fortwo (the only model sold in North America), the Daimler-owned brand sells the four-seater Forfour overseas. The same architecture is used for the Renault Twingo, a more conventionally styled micro-mini city car.
Currently, Smart is in the process of converting both of its models to electric propulsion, though the Fortwo has already gone green in the U.S. and Canada (much to the detriment of its already paltry sales).
Should Renault get up and leave, that makes Smart’s future after 2026 mighty hazy. It’s possible that Daimler might keep the brand alive, or simply cull it altogether. A third option would see the parent company create a product offering in the Mercedes-Benz division to retain a presence in the tiny green car segment.
It’s worth noting, as Automobile does, that Chinese auto giant Geely owns a 9.7 percent stake in Daimler, and Geely knows a thing or two about developing and selling small electric cars. The possibilities created by Geely’s presence can’t be discounted.
Should the Smart name disappear from certain Mercedes-Benz dealers in the U.S. and Canada, little would change on North American roads. Through the end of September, Mercedes-Benz USA recorded 959 Smart Fortwo sales, down 63.6 percent over the same period last year. In Canada, Fortwo sales dropped 4.7 percent over the first nine months of 2018, for a total of 264 units.
The EPA rates the 2018 Smart EQ Fortwo’s range at 58 miles.
[Image: Daimler AG]
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