Cary's Garage: Smart Car Struggles
I have a 2009 Smart car that seems to be having some issues and I was wondering if you might have some advice on what I should do. I went to drive it recently and the transmission seems to not shift or do anything at all. I put it in drive and the engine just revs, if I restart it a couple of times sometimes it will go into gear and move. What should I do?
This is Smart's Send-off for the Internal Combustion Engine
Before Smart goes all-electric next year, Daimler plans to offer “an exclusive and strictly limited special edition” model as a farewell to its combustion-engine vehicles. Designed by Konstantin Grcic, a man known for designing mass-manufactured minimalist furniture, the automaker says these limited-edition cars are for the “most ardent collectors only.”
Presumably, Daimler is referring to collectors in the general sense, as we’ve never heard of anyone with a devoted throng of Smart cars.
While it may sound like a bit of a turd, the company also said Brabus’ involvement was essential in developing the 21 models slated to roll off the assembly line in August of this year. That means more grunt and improved noises coming out of the back end — something we can all appreciate, be it in the bedroom or out on the open road.
QOTD: Smart Idea, or No?
Monday brought news few people feared: the dwindling, one-model Smart brand (we refuse to use a lowercase “S”) is gonzo after 2019, at least in North America. Finally, some of you might be thinking.
It’s not likely there’s a large contingent of readers who can claim to be an owner of a Fortwo, or a Fortwo Electric Drive, or a Fortwo EQ Somethingorother, but it’s not inconceivable that a Smart played some part in your automotive history.
Given that the Smart brand lives on — and is destined to breed a new crop of global vehicles from its future Chinese plant come 2022 — it’s worth asking: can you see the brand returning to these unfriendly shores?
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.
China to the Rescue: Geely Steps In to Save the Smart Brand
Contrary to past media reports, the Smart brand will not join the likes of Plymouth, Scion, and Pontiac in the great automotive graveyard. If that’s a good thing in your books, send a note of thanks to China’s Geely Holding, savior of Volvo and Lotus.
On Thursday, Smart parent company Daimler and Geely announced a 50:50 joint venture to develop and build a new generation of global-market Smart models in China.
Smart's in Danger, and Not Just in North America
According to a report out of Germany, we’ll know by the end of the year whether Daimler AG intends to keep its Smart city car division alive.
Created a quarter century ago, Smart’s focus on microscopic urban runabouts like the Fortwo gave way to a plan to go all-electric in Europe by 2020, two years after ditching gasoline in North America. However, there’s a chance the automaker’s incoming CEO might relegate the badge to the scrap heap of history.
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.
Brand That Looks at Fiat With Envy in the U.S. Previews Its Future
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.
Incredibly Small Car Brand Loses Its Head
People make fun of automakers with severely limited vehicle lineups, but Mitsubishi has nothing on the diminutive — in every sense of the word — Smart brand. Note: we’re using a capital “S” here and always will.
Technically, the Daimler AG division sells a single model in the United States, though the powers that be break it up into two: coupe and cabriolet. Well known for being the smallest, lightest mass-produced new car on the domestic market, the Fortwo quickly gained a reputation for having the jerkiest, most unsatisfying transmission in existence. Recently, engine fires sparked (pardon the pun) a recall of 43,000 2008-2009 vehicles in the U.S. and 7,000 in Canada.
Born as a diesel-powered division before changing over to gasoline propulsion, Smart has now evolved into an electric-only brand. And its U.S. sales have never been lower. Maybe the new head of Smart will have some ideas.
Mercedes-Benz to Preview New Police Vehicles in Germany, Promises They'll Be 'Electrifying'
Daimler will be present at this week’s General Police Equipment Exhibition & Conference to showcase its new law enforcement units. While Mercedes-Benz patrol vehicles are fairly common in the fatherland, Daimler may be seeking to broaden appeal within Europe and beyond. Don’t expect a sudden rush of imported squad cars for North America, however.
The only possible exception would be the Sprinter van. The NYPD currently fields a large number of E-Series vans as “Paddy wagons” but has started replacing them with the Ford Transit and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. The city also uses Smart ForTwos as parking enforcement. Likewise, the LAPD has also expressed an interest in adopting the Sprinter as a transport vehicle but chose the BMW i3 as its small unit intended primarily for virtue signaling.
Canada Slow to Realize Something Might Be Wrong With 2008 Smart Cars
Maybe it’s the Hoth-like climate and the urge to do anything in one’s power to warm it up, but Canada has so far taken a laid-back approach to the fires plaguing older Smart Fortwo models. A big part of the problem is that no one’s telling the country’s transportation regulator about them.
The models bursting into flames in the Great White North are of the same vintage as those which sparked an investigation by the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, Transport Canada has yet to open a defect investigation of its own.
Rare Rides: There's a 2004 Smart Roadster in Brooklyn but It's Mostly Useless
What has three cylinders, a removable roof, and is technically illegal to own in the United States? Why, it’s the Smart Roadster, of course.
Come have a look at all the illegal plastic you can get for twenty grand.
Should All Smart Dealers Burn Down Their Lots This Summer?
It’s been roughly a decade since Daimler’s Smart Automobile first caressed America’s purple mountains and amber waves of grain with the microscopic Fortwo. Despite a promising first year in the United States, the brand never really managed to carve a space out for itself in a competitive and size-obsessed marketplace. The same is true (over a slightly longer timeline) for Canada.
Standalone Smart dealerships have become a rarity, frequently rolled into Mercedes-Benz sales lots over the years. But both have to ask themselves the same question: Is it worth pursuing sales when Daimler converts the little two-seater into a pure electric later this year and abandons the gasoline engine?
Obviously, the gut reaction is to tell every Mercedes-Benz franchise “probably not” and recommend any standalone Smart dealership immediately consider arson. Small car sales in North America are dwindling and EV sales are miniscule. Claiming a vehicle that exists as one of the least capable examples of both is a good investment is not something any rational person would suggest. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the unfortunately named Fortwo ED in North America.
Freed From Gasoline, the 2017 Smart Fortwo Drops Its Price and Adds Range
Will anyone notice? Mercedes-Benz certainly hopes so, as it recently choose to ditch gasoline powerplants altogether and make the Smart sub-brand an all-electric affair.
The automaker announced pricing and specifications for its 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive coupe and convertible today, billing the two-seater as one of the cheapest EVs you can buy. The droptop variant remains the only electric convertible you can get your hands on, should that be your thing.
While many scratch their heads and wonder why Smart continues to exist in North America, the automaker hopes to entice consumers with a lower starting price and added range.
Smart Stays the Course in Europe as It Shifts Focus in the United States
You’d probably never guess this from examining any parking lot in suburban North America, but Daimler’s microcar brand is actually doing exceedingly well. Despite the global trend toward crossovers, Smart saw record sales last year and increased its global volume 21 percent to 144,479 units. More amazing is that it’s still a brand that owes the entirety of its success to one niche market.
Smart doesn’t seem interested in changing course, either. While it’s abandoning internal combustion units to pursue a strict EV-only mentality in the United States, it will be business as usual for the the rest of the planet. But, with much of the industry offering spanking new compact crossovers and with fuel prices still so low, wouldn’t it be in Smart’s best interest to look beyond the limited microcar segment?