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Smart “All-In” on Battery-Cars

U.S. only getting Fortwo ED, however.

by on Sep.30, 2016

Green machine: The Smart Fortwo ED Cabriolet makes its debut at the Paris Motor Show.

Range anxiety remains one of the biggest concerns for consumers considering a battery-electric vehicle but it’s less of a concern for those who might only need their vehicles for short runs in dense urban settings. And that could play out well for the little Smart brand.

Daimler AG’s city car subsidiary plugged into the Paris Motor Show with a trio of next-generation battery-electric vehicles, one for each of Smart’s models. The preview was part of a broader series of announcement about electrification that included the launch of the new Mercedes-EQ brand-within-a-brand.

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“Smart is going all-in on battery power,” declared Daimler AG Chairman and CEO Dieter Zetsche, as the newest Smart Electric Drive trio drove onto the stage.

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Smart Unveils Two New Models, Adds 4-door to Line-Up

Daimler brand hopes small is (more) beautiful this time.

by on Jul.16, 2014

Smart shows off its new Fortwo and Forfour models during a Berlin unveiling.

Aiming to take advantage of the growing global demand for small, high-mileage vehicles, Smart has unveiled two long-awaited offerings: a replacement for its pint-sized Fortwo model and an all-new four-seater, appropriately dubbed the Forfour.

The pair come to market as the culmination of an expanding affiliation between Smart’s parent Daimler AG and the Renault Nissan Alliance. The French-Japanese partnership has already launched its own version, the Renault Twingo having made its debut during the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.

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While sharing many key, underlying components, the partners emphasized developing different visual designs, with Daimler’s Smart brand also opting for two different interior configurations. The maker is hoping to sharply increase global sales by offering both two- and four-seat models, though there are currently no plans to bring the Smart Fortwo over to the U.S. market. (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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First Drive: 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

by on Aug.07, 2013

The third-generation Smart ED's new, lower price tag could be its biggest selling point.

It’s become one of the more familiar silhouettes on the road – not necessarily a good thing considering the Smart fortwo has been around in Europe since before the turn of the Millennium and in U.S. showrooms since 2007. That said, the maker is rolling out an all-new version worth another look: the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive – or, if you prefer for a car this small, let’s just call it the ED.

This is the third-generation battery car for Daimler AG’s microcar brand and the most ambitious, which is probably understandable considering it is also the most functional and enjoyable version of the ED yet. The 2013 Smart battery car is faster, delivers better rage and steers and handles better than its predecessors.

But what could be the most effective selling point for the third-generation Smart Fortwo ED is the price tag. The maker launched the 2013 model at $199 a month.  That included a $119 charge for the car itself and another $80 a month for the new Battery Assurance Plan.  In other words, customers lease the battery separately from the car itself. Oddly, the package actually came in at half the earlier lease price for the entire vehicle, battery included.  But to make the Fortwo ED even more appealing, Smart is now dropping the package price for the Coupe to just $139 a month.

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Smart Slashing Price for New Electric Drive Model

Maker also introduces extended battery protection program.

by on Aug.07, 2013

Smart is dropping the lease price on the Fortwo Electric Drive by nearly a third.

Taking a cue from competitors who have boosted sales by cutting costs, Smart has trimmed the monthly lease price of its Fortwo Electric Drive, or ED, model by nearly a third – while also introducing a new “Battery Assurance Plan” meant to assure the vehicle delivers the promised performance and range as long as it is in an owner’s hands.

The microcar division of Daimler AG – and sister to the Mercedes-Benz brand – Smart introduced its third-generation Electric Drive model earlier this year, company officials insisting they are committed to battery power for the long haul despite the slow growth in demand for the clean, lower-cost alternative.

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“We feel it’s a no-brainer. It just makes sense,” said Smart’s new General Manager Mark Webster, during an introduction of the latest Fortwo ED model and the new battery warranty program.

Motorists can still buy the battery version of the Smart Fortwo but the maker is encouraging them to lease the vehicle instead. When the gen-3 ED was launched the maker had priced it at $199 a month – which actually included $119 for the car itself and another $80 a month for the Battery Assurance Plan. The new price drops to just $139 a month, Webster announced.

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Mercedes May Launch New X-Class Microcar

Germans turning to French alliance partner Renault for help.

by on Mar.19, 2013

Mercedes is looking to follow the lead of key competitors like BMW and Audi.

It may require an alphabetic revision, but Mercedes-Benz is reportedly working up a new model line that would slot somewhere between the maker’s current bottom-end A-Class and the Smart car produced by parent Daimler AG.

Designed to take on competitors like the Audi A1 and a front-drive BMW model now under development, Mercedes is expected to turn to its French alliance partner Renault to help develop the small car. The X-Class would be targeted at the growing market for high-mileage microcars and be offered in a mix of body styles.

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Production of the new line is expected to begin around 2018, according to Germany’s AutoBild magazine, with the X-Class expected to come in at a base price of around €20,000, or $26,000 at current exchange rates. That would create a serious challenge for the maker, something Mercedes apparently will address by turning to one of its partners for assistance.

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Daimler Betting Small Can Be Big

Maker looking for more downsized Mercedes, Smart models.

by on Jan.22, 2013

Perhaps nothing symbolizes the Mercedes-Benz brand like its classic S-Class model. But while the big sedan is set for a remake next year, expect Mercedes and the sibling Smart brand to put an increasing emphasis on downsized products that reflect the ongoing shift in the global luxury market.

Nonetheless, downsized doesn’t have to mean down-market, emphasized Dieter Zetsche, CEO of parent company Daimler AG.

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While Zetsche stresses it is “very important to maintain and strengthen our role in traditional segments,” he is quick to add that, “If we want to grow and don’t want to lose our customers, we have to downsize.”

Mercedes offered a hint of what’s to come during a sneak preview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month, providing reporters a brief look at the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA.

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Smart Car’s New GM Has Tough Task

Tracey Matura takes over as Mercedes-Benz USA assumes control of U.S. distributor.

by on Mar.24, 2011

Smart's ForTwo represents the automaker's biggest problem. The 13-year-old design needs to be revamped to be competitive.

Mercedes-Benz USA has named one of its veteran retail strategists to take over the troubled Smart brand.

Tracey Matura, currently general manager of retail strategic development, was named to take over the brand a month after M-B announced it was canceling the Penske Automotive Group’s contract to distribute Smart cars in the U.S.

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Matura has a tough job. Initially given Smart distribution rights in 2008, Penske had good success the first year as the car’s novelty and tiny size made it a cult favorite. But once the early adopters got their Smart cars, keeping the sales momentum became tough.

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2010 Smart fortwo

How small is too small?

by on Apr.13, 2010

The 2010 Smart fortwo is offered with a hard-top or a truck foldaway canvas roof.

We’re a nation that has long equated bigger with better, and nowhere is that more true than in the auto industry, where a car’s worth is normally measured by the pound and inch.

Not so, much of the rest of the world.  In markets like Europe and Japan, small is beautiful.  But as our own roads grow more crowded, with fuel prices rising and tough new emissions standards going into effect, even American motorists are beginning to appreciate downsized models like the Mini. But how small is too small?  Smart, it seems, may have pushed the envelope a bit too far.

Measuring barely eight feet, nose-to-tail, the fortwo microcar is, without question, the smallest mass-market product on U.S. highways. It defines a new generation of so-called “urban commuter cars.”

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As the name suggests, the fortwo does, indeed, provide seating for two, with a modest bit of storage space in back.  There’s a hardtop version, as well as a sort-of convertible, which features a trick foldback canvas top that provides a more open driving experience than a conventional sunroof.

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