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Posts Tagged ‘microcars’

Smart Reveals New ForTwo Cabrio

America’s smallest car goes topless.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The newly redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio will offer a three-position canvas top.

The new Smart car hasn’t yet landed in showrooms in the U.S. but the German microcar maker is already rolling out a second version, with a third on the way.

The redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio gets a new canvas “tritop” that can open up like a sunroof or fold back more like a conventional convertible. Set to formally debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the two-seater will reach showrooms in mid-spring 2016.

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“Our new smart cabrio really exudes joie de vivre in the city – which is what our brand stands for”, said Smart brand boss Annette Winkler. “I am sure that we will delight our present 220,000 cabrio customers and win lots of new fans with this successful lifestyle icon.”

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Little Smart Has Big Ambitions for New ForTwo

But is there a market for microcars in truck-happy U.S.?

by on Aug.25, 2015

Two extremes of the Daimler AG family, the 2016 Smart ForTwo with a row of Western Star trucks.

Size matters. That’s long been a guiding principle in the U.S. auto industry, and with fuel prices down sharply this year, it seems truer than ever as American motorists once again shift from fuel-efficient small cars to larger SUVs, CUVs and pickups.

And that raises a serious question about this year’s launch of what will be the smallest car on the U.S. market, the 2016 Smart ForTwo. After a seemingly endless delay, parent Daimler AG has launched an all-new version of the microcar just as potential competitors, such as the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 struggle to reverse double-digit sales declines.

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Nonetheless, “We hope there is much more potential” for a brand that has so far failed to live up to its initial promise, says Annette Winkler, the head of the Smart brand during a first U.S. media drive of the new ForTwo model.

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First Look: Updated Fiat 500

No immediate plans for U.S. market update.

by on Jul.07, 2015

The 2016 Fiat 500 gets a number of exterior and interior updates - in Europe.

While we Americans have only had access to the little Fiat 500 since the 2012 model-year, it’s been around the block for awhile – getting only modest changes since its European introduction in 2007. Considering the speed with which vehicles are being refreshed these days, that might suggest the Cinquecento is already overdue.

And, indeed, for 2016 Fiat is bringing some changes to the little car, making a number of modest exterior updates, introducing revised powertrains, and giving the 2016 Fiat 500 a much more user-friendly infotainment system based on the Uconnect system developed by the Chrysler side of the family.

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Here’s the catch: for now, the changes to the Fiat 500 are for the European market only. There’s no word if or when we’ll see the Italian maker tweak the U.S. version.

“The 500 revealed in Turin is a model produced in Europe for Europe,” explains FCA spokesman Bryan Zvibleman. “The Fiat 500 for North America will continue to be produced in Toluca, Mexico keeping the specific features for the North American market.”

So, what are you missing out on?

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Nissan Hopes to Sway Small Car Buyers with New Concept

Nissan Sway concept expected to reappear as the next Nissan Micra.

by on Feb.25, 2015

The Nissan Sway concept is believed to be a close-to-production design tease for the next Micra.

Nissan is out to prove that big things really can come in small packages, the maker offering up a first teaser image of the new Sway concept vehicle it plans to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The small hatchback is expected to be a thinly disguised version of the next-generation Micra, according to several sources TheDetroitBureau.com spoke with. The Nissan Sway concept underscores the increasingly competitive nature of the minicar market, particularly in Europe, where buyers expect many of the same features, and much the same level of creature comfort, as they’d get in larger products.

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“Sway is a glimpse at how a future generation of small Nissan models could look if the company’s striking new design language was applied to a European hatchback,” Nissan said in a short release accompanying the teaser image.

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Smart Offers First Tease of New Fortwo and Forfour Models

Look for official launch in Paris later this year.

by on Jul.09, 2014

Daimler is providing a little glimpse at its Smart microcars, the Smart Fortwo and Forfour, in this rendering in advance of the Paris Motor Show.

After a seemingly endless delay, Daimler’s microcar division, Smart, is finally getting ready to roll out two all-new models that, it hopes, will pump some life into the struggling brand.

While we won’t get a first look at the sheet metal until the upcoming Paris Motor Show, Smart has offered some teaser images of the new Fortwo and Forfour models – some rough exterior renderings, as well as close-ups of a few interior and exterior details.

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We’ve also gotten a sense of what’s coming, not from Smart, but from Renault, the French automaker that partnered up with Daimler AG and has taken lead in the development of not just the two new Smart microcars, but also the Renault Twingo that made its own debut, last March, at the Geneva Motor Show. (more…)

Smart Video Reveals Two New Models

Next-gen city cars will get even smaller.

by on May.08, 2014

The new Smart ForFour and ForTwo undergoing winter testing in Sweden.

Finally – but will anyone actually notice? That’s the question the folks at Smart, the microcar division of Daimler AG, have to be worrying about as, after much too long of a wait, they finally get ready to launch two all-new models.

And a new video posted on Youtube offers a first close-up look at the two only slightly camouflaged new products, the all-new ForFour, and the replacement for the Smart ForTwo.

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Both are shown undergoing winter testing in Sweden, a routine part of the product development process for most manufacturers.

How soon are they likely to come to market? Soon, it appears, Chief Engineer Markus Riedel telling the video crew both models are pretty much ready to be launched.

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New Renault Twingo Offers Hint of New Smart ForFour

Smaller outside, bigger In – with new rear-engine layout.

by on Mar.05, 2014

The new Renault Twingo will share its platform with the upcoming Smart ForFour 4-seater.

There’s a big car inside the little Renault Twingo making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show this year – and it offers some significant hints as to what’s to come when Smart unveils its own new minicar, the Forfour, later in 2014.

The two vehicles were developed as part of an expanding alliance pairing the French automaker and Smart’s German parent Daimler AG – along with Renault’s Japanese partner Nissan.  The three makers are jointly developing an array of vehicles, from microcars to compact luxury models.

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The new Twingo is more than just a modest redesign. Working with Smart, Renault made some radical changes – starting with the decision to mount the engine in the rear, a strategy that offers a number of advantages, contends Benoit Bochard, the program’s product planning chief.  Among other things, it helped engineers move the front axle forward, yielding significantly more space for both passengers and cargo.

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Ford Reveals New Urban Car– er, Ka Concept

How small is too small? Ford tests the waters.

by on Nov.14, 2013

Ford brings back an old name in the form of the Brazilian-designed Ka Concept.

How small is too small? That’s something Ford is trying to find out with the unveiling of its Ka concept, a microcar design developed in Brazil that it hopes will gain some traction around the world in one of the auto industry’s fastest-growing market segments.

A good bit smaller than the current Fiesta model, the Ford concept revives a name first used on one of the maker’s more eccentric offerings in the late 1990s and targets a subcompact segment estimated to reach 6.2 million sales annually by 2017.

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The Ford Ka Concept is the second recent model developed by Ford’s Brazilian studio, following the new EcoSport that is rolling into showrooms from South American to Shanghai.

“Ford has a long history in Brazil, bringing development, jobs and growth to the region,” said the maker’s Chairman Bill Ford. “As an integral part of our global growth strategy, we are committed to bringing world-class products to Brazil and to helping the region create global vehicles for the rest of the world.”

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Fiat Ponders Future Product Options

Might microcar maker look to something bigger?

by on Jun.17, 2013

Two versions of the new Fiat 500L, the Lounge and the Trekking. The maker is now looking at future products.

With the 500L, its second distinct product line, now rolling into U.S. showrooms, Fiat is pondering where to go next.  The maker is hoping to broaden its appeal with an expanding array of microcars – but several senior officials hint that something a bit bigger could be in the cards, as well. The question now being debated internally is just how much bigger the brand can go.

After a painfully slow start, Fiat finally clicked with U.S. consumers in 2012, sales surging to 43,000, in line with earlier forecasts.  The maker is hoping that the new 500L could bump that volume up substantially, the little people-mover potentially generating as much as half of the brand’s U.S. sales, according to Jason Stoicevich, who recently took over as North American brand boss.

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He is quick to stress that doesn’t mean sales will double, as some potential Fiat buyers might switch from the little 500 coupe to the 500L – which is a full 27 inches longer and offers interior space nearly as big as the full-size Chrysler 300 sedan.

“We’re not going to set (unhealthy) numbers we have to chase,” Stoicevich told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview in Baltimore where Fiat gave automotive journalists the first chance to drive the new 500L.  “We want to grow, but we want to be smart about it.”

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Fiat 500 America: Not for America

Red, white and European.

by on Mar.08, 2012

America, America...? Fiat's starts-and-stripes edition will be limited to the European market.

Want to show your colors?  Fiat is waving the flag, but there’s just one catch: the red, white and blue Fiat 500 America edition won’t be sold in the U.S.

The Italian maker apparently wants to make the rest of the world, especially buyers in its home base of Europe, well aware that it’s returned to the States for the first time in two decades with the popular model folks on the Continent know as the Cinquecento.

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To introduce the 500 America, the maker opened its Geneva Motor Show news conference with the widely watched, albeit controversial, Clint Eastwood ad that first aired during this year’s Super Bowl. Considering Europe’s worsening financial situation, the message of the 2-minute spot, dubbed “Halftime in America,” was clearly not lost on the crowd.

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