Smart Brand in Danger, Report Claims

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Garak Garak on Oct 24, 2018

    Smart has never made a decent product. The cars have always been unreliable and have poor fuel economy for their class. I'm surprised the brand's survived this far.

    • MoDo MoDo on Oct 24, 2018

      It only survived because they are built in a heavily subsidized French factory - and the electr5ic ones are (or were) used as carbon credit fodder for Mercedes Benz.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird MRF 95 T-Bird on Oct 24, 2018

    Smart could always replace it with its platform mate the roomier Renault Twingo. I’ve always had a soft spot for the roadster version that we never received in the states. It’s nearing the 25 year make for importation.

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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
  • 1995_SC Can you still get some of the tax credits under the new program?
  • Analoggrotto HyundaiGenesisKia saw this coming a long time ago and are poised for hybrid and plug-in hybrid segment leadership:[list=1][*] The most extensive range of hybrids[/*][*]Highest hybrid sales proportion over any other model [/*][*]Best YouTube reviews [/*][*]Highest number of consumer reports best picks [/*][*]Class leading ATPs among all hybrid vehicles and PHEVs enjoy segment bearing eATPs[/*][/list=1]While some brands like Toyota have invested and wasted untold fortunes into full range electric lineups HyundaiKiaGenesis has taken the right approach here.
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