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Smart Vision EQ Concept Foresees Future as an All-Electric Brand

Smart will go all-electric in U.S., Europe by 2020, with other markets to follow.

by on Sep.12, 2017

Mercedes chief Dieter Zetsche introduces the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

With its butterfly doors, a complete lack of steering wheel and other controls, and a lithium-ion battery pack tucked neatly below the floor, the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept that made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show Monday night is designed to give us a glimpse of the future. But that may not be nearly as far off as it might seem.

By most forecasts, we’re likely to see the first real autonomous vehicles start rolling into showrooms by 2020, and several automakers are promising to build their first completely driverless models before mid-decade.

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As for Smart, “by the end of this decade,” declared Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the Smart brand’s parent, Daimler AG, “we will switch the Smart brand in Europe and the U.S. to completely electric drive, and the rest of the world will follow.” (more…)

Smart Going All-Electric in U.S. Market

Minicar brand abandoning gas models after 2017.

by on Feb.14, 2017

The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive offer a maximum range of 99 miles and is now the only Smart Fortwo option in the U.S. and Canada.

Barely a year after belatedly redesigning its microcar line-up, Daimler AG’s Smart brand has confirmed it will stop selling gasoline-powered vehicle in the U.S. and Canada, focusing exclusively on an electrified version of its two-seat Fortwo model.

It is the latest development in a series of setbacks for Smart, which has continued to lose ground despite last year’s redesign. The timing was unfortunate, according to industry analysts, coming at a point when gasoline prices were hovering at barely $2 a gallon and millions of North American buyers have been migrating from passenger cars to utility vehicles and other light trucks.

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News of the decision to go all-electric came in the form of a letter sent by Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, to Smart dealers. Declaring “Smart has always been synonymous with innovation,” Exler added that “Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio. He concluded that, “A dedicated focus on the electric drive in the U.S. and Canada provides a logical step to support a sustainable, zero emissions future.” (more…)

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 Plugs In with Next-Gen Fortwo Electric Drive

Fifth-generation battery microcar to debut in Paris next week.

by on Sep.23, 2016

Smart's next-generation Fortwo Electric Drive, or ED for short, is coming to the Paris Motor Show.

The Smart brand has long struggled to find a niche for its pint-sized Fortwo city car. It may make a better case with the arrival of the next-generation Electric Drive.

All but identical to the latest, gas-powered Smart Fortwo that made its debut last year, the Electric Drive, or ED, will be available in both coupe and cabriolet configurations when it reaches the U.S. market next year.

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“The smart is the ideal city car, and with electric drive it becomes a little bit more perfect,” said Annette Winkler, the global Smart brand boss. (more…)

Daimler Investing Around $8 Bil on “Green” Powertrains by 2018.

New, 300-mile electric Mercedes set to debut at Paris Motor Show.

by on Jun.13, 2016

Mercedes plans to launch a new hydrogen car with a plug-in battery system to boost mileage.

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG will invest more than seven billion euros, or $8 billion, on green powertrains over the next two years – about half of its total R&D budget — the automaker said today.

That effort will include a mix of different technologies, including fuel-cell vehicles and clean diesels, as well as various battery drive systems. The maker said that “all” of its vehicle lines will be “electrified” by 2020, with sales of such models expected to be in the “six figures” by then, according to Daimler R&D chief Thomas Weber.

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“We will electrify all Mercedes-Benz passenger car model series step by step,” said Weber,the executive last week announcing that a prototype of a new models capable of 500 kilometers, or about 310 miles per charge, will be revealed at the Paris Motor Show in October.

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Smart or Not? Driving the 2016 ForTwo Microcar

The smallest car on the road isn’t for everyone.

by on Sep.03, 2015

Same profile and 8.8-foot length, but a number of subtle changes distinguish the 2016 Smart ForTwo.

What if you launch a revolution and nobody comes?

Nothing short of automotive insurgency was what Daimler-Benz and its partner, Swiss watch company Swatch, had in mind when they originally conceived the idea of Smart in 1994. Their goal was to launch a small car brand perfectly tuned to the world’s fast-growing megacities, something hip, affordable, easy to maneuver on crowded streets and environmentally friendly.

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Four years later, Swatch had dropped out of the project, the German maker was about to become DaimlerChrysler, and the Smart brand was to generate little of the enthusiasm originally anticipated — though a lot more red ink. That soon forced the maker to abandon all but the two-seat ForTwo.

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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.”

(more…)

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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Surge in Sales Propels Daimler Profits

Revenues up 6% as demand grows for new S-Class, other models.

by on Jul.23, 2014

Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche during a recent product unveiling. Mercedes plans to launch 30 new models by the end of the decade.

Promising to regain its once-formidable lead as the world’s top luxury car manufacturer, Daimler AG has unleashed an unprecedented product assault that has begun gaining traction with consumers – driving a surge in second-quarter sales and earnings for the parent of the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands.

With revenues up 6%, to $42.4 billion, Daimler posted a net profit of nearly $3 billion for the April to June period. But perhaps more telling was the fact that earnings before interest and taxes, or EBIT, shot to 7.9% of revenue during the latest quarter, up from 6.4% a year earlier.

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“We are growing profitably, our strategy is bearing fruit,” said Daimler AG Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche in statement accompanying the earnings announcement. “We are very satisfied with the second quarter and continue to work effectively on structural improvements.”

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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…)