Confirmed: Smart Brand Dead in North America After This Year

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
confirmed smart brand dead in north america after this year

The brand discontinuation we’ve all been waiting for has come to pass.

One month after the city car-building Smart brand’s salvation at the hands of China’s Geely, parent company Daimler has announced the 2019 model year will be Smart’s last in North America.

Say goodbye to a single electric model with a range of 58 miles.

Rumors of the money-losing brand’s imminent demise only grew louder this year, with Daimler’s partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance growing increasingly shaky and Smart sales sinking to near nothing following the North American removal of gasoline-powered models for the 2018 model year. The entire brand was poised to go electric globally before Geely swooped in last month with a deal for a 50:50 joint partnership, saving it from being culled at the hands of incoming Daimler CEO Ola Källenius.

While next-generation Smart vehicles will begin rolling out of a Chinese factory in 2022, the story comes to an end on this side of the Atlantic this year.

TechCrunch confirmed the brand’s discontinuation in the U.S. and Canada on Monday, following word from two sources who revealed Daimler’s plans.

“After much careful consideration, smart will discontinue its battery-electric smart EQ fortwo model in the U.S. and Canadian markets at the conclusion of MY2019,” a Daimler AG spokesperson wrote in an email to the publication. “A number of factors, including a declining micro-car market in the U.S. and Canada, combined with high homologation costs for a low volume model are central to this decision.”

Smart sales will continue to the end of the year, the spokesperson said, adding that servicing and parts will remain available through certain Mercedes-Benz dealers.

Daimler’s incoming CEO, Ola Källenius, was reportedly prepared to drop Smart like a hot potato in order to stem the red ink.

Conceived of by SMH, maker of Swatch watches, Smart became a reality in 1994 after the company paired with Daimler for the development and production of a new line of ultra-efficient city vehicles. The Fortwo was the first model birthed from the brand, and the only one to make it to North America. Available in coupe and convertible form and saddled with an automatic transmission deemed the worst in the industry, the rear-engined Fortwo offered two passengers unlikely legroom, meager cargo space, and insanely high fuel economy from its diminutive three-cylinder diesel.

The brand came to Canada in 2004, arriving in the U.S. four years later and sold through participating Mercedes-Benz dealers. By that time, Daimler had increased its stake to a majority one. Earlier this decade, the Fortwo’s diesel engine gave way to a gasoline-powered 0.9-liter unit, with an electric variant offered alongside.

Slow acceleration (in ICE-powered models), limited cargo and passenger capacity, and terrifyingly small exterior proportions made the Fortwo an increasingly tough sell in truck-crazed North America, with its debut year being its best sales year in the United States. Volume plunged each year following the 2014 entry of the current-generation model, and 2018’s dropping of internal combustion powerplants saw sales enter a rocket-assisted freefall.

Some 1,276 Fortwos found buyers in the U.S. last year.

Between 2018 and 2019, the now lone Smart Fortwo Electric Drive gained an EQ designation, part of Daimler’s electric vehicle branding strategy, which stands to make the last iteration the rarest of all domestic Fortwos.

So long, Smart.

[Images: Daimler AG, TTAC]

Join the conversation
2 of 7 comments
  • Acd Acd on Apr 29, 2019

    The transmission in a Smart feels like a kid driving a manual who can't use a clutch very well or shift gears except its an automatic doing it, apparently all on purpose.

  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Apr 29, 2019

    Oh, no! It cannot be, it is so cruel, what they do to us. I cannot imagine my life without Smart vehicle in rear mirror of my car. First Climate Change, then Fiesta, and now this, where world is heading?!

  • Tassos The EQS is the best looking BEV, better than even the only Tesla I would ever consider (the S) and more luxurious inside etc etcThe self driving features will come in handy when I'm 110 and my eyesight and reaction times start to suffer.But that's four decades away, and only Tim recommends 40 year old "used cars"
  • Tassos "Baby, Baby light my fire!""Oh God please give me a Kia Forte" --Janis Joplin
  • Tassos The fugly looks of any Subaru, and especially the non-sporty non-elegant, fugly, low-rent looks and interior of the WRX are alone a sufficient turnoff to never want to own one.One can be a 100% car enthusiast but ALSO demand a beautiful AND luxurious vehicle one can be truly proud of and which makes one very happy every time one drives it.The above is obviously totally foreign to Subaru Designers and managers.Αnd who cares if they sell all they make? this is 100% worthless bragging, since they hardly make ANY. ALL of Subaru's models together, all dozen of them, sell less than the top selling Toyota or Honda or even Tesla sells. ANd furthermore, if you have the intellectual horsepower to understand it, bulldude, which I am 99% sure you sure as hell do not, it is NOT about the sales units, it is not even about the sales revenue.It is all about the P R O F I T S.Am I going slow enough for you, bulldude?
  • Thehyundaigarage Am I the only one that sees a Peugeot 508?
  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.