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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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Smart Electric Drive Named America’s “Greenest” Vehicle; Ram 2500 the “Meanest”

Battery cars, hybrids dominate Top 10, while full-size pickups and sports car rank at the bottom.

by on Jan.28, 2014

The third-generation Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is named the "Greenest Vehicle" on U.S. roads.

The 2-seat Smart ForTwo Electric Drive battery car is the most environmentally friendly vehicle on American roads, according to the 2014 Greenest Vehicles list, with an assortment of battery-electric vehicles, plug-ins, hybrids – and one natural gas model – rounding out the Top 10.

The Smart ED, as it’s often called, scored a record 59 out of 100 possible points, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.  But Toyota and Honda overwhelming dominate the ACEEE list of “Greenest” models.  At the other end of the spectrum, Chrysler’s Ram 2500 gets razzed as the “Meanest” vehicle on the market with a score of just 18.

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“We’ve had such an influx of hybrid and electric vehicles in recent years that the race to earn a spot on the “Greenest” list is more competitive than ever, particularly for conventional vehicles,” said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan, adding that, “It’s encouraging to see automakers investing heavily in eco-savvy vehicles on the whole.”

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Smart Not Planning U.S. Version of ForFour 4-Seater

Betting a new version of the ForTwo can do the job.

by on Jan.22, 2014

Daimler AG's Smart brand will remain a one-model brand in the U.S. for the time being with the ForTwo.

Desperate to replace its aging ForTwo model and expand its appeal, Daimler AG’s Smart brand will nonetheless skip the U.S. market when it comes time to launch a second, larger minicar.

The troubled brand’s top executive told Automotive News she doesn’t think the cost of upgrading the planned ForFour model would be justified by what are likely to be modest sales, at best, in the American market.

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While a final decision has yet to be made, the likelihood that there’ll be no U.S. version of the ForFour is leaving some observers scratching their heads, especially when compared to what Smart’s competitors have been doing to expand their own appeal. (more…)

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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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 to Offer Market’s Lowest-Priced EV

Compact size, compact price.

by on Oct.05, 2012

Smart adds a bigger battery to boost range and performance with the 2013 fortwo ED.

Why aren’t consumers getting charged up about battery cars? That’s the question a lot of folks have been asking as sales lag well behind earlier expectations.

Range is clearly a concern, motorists worrying about being able to go – with most models – less than 100 miles per charge. But the big issue appears to be price. Electric vehicles simply carry too steep a premium for many potential buyers.

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That’s something little Smart hopes to address when it introduces what it is billing as the lowest-priced battery vehicle coming to the U.S. market from a major manufacturer. The 2013 Smart fortwo ED – short for Electric Drive – will carry a base price of just $25,780. (Not including a $750 delivery charge.)

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New Smart Concept Shoots For the Stars

Smart Forstars to debut in Paris next week.

by on Sep.17, 2012

The Smart ForStars Concept could signal plans for a micro sport-ute coupe.

You can’t blame Smart for shooting for the stars.  Considering its poor performance in recent years, it has nowhere to go but up.

And the Daimler microcar subsidiary is hoping to signal where it will be going when an all-new line-up of products comes out soon with the debut of the Smart ForStars concept vehicle.  It will make its appearance 10 days from now at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

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Smart has already offered a hint of what the next-generation Fortwo 2-seater will look like with the earlier ForVision show car.  The ForStars appears to be a preview of something a big larger; think the Smart take on the Mini Countryman, perhaps, as it dubs the new concept a “Sports-Utility Coupe.”

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Smart Launches World’s First Twitter Ad

Small cars, short ads.

by on Apr.16, 2012

Smart's Argentine subsidiary has launched what it bills as the world's first Twitter ad.

It had to happen.  And how could it be more appropriate: the maker of one of the world’s smallest automobiles turning to one of the shortest forms of social media to get the message out.

Daimler’s Smart car brand has just launched the first ads on Twitter, the short-form messaging system favored by everyone from celebrities to precocious tweens.  While that might seem difficult to accomplish in 140 characters, the maker’s Argentine subsidiary did it by creating a high-tech version of the old flipbook concept.

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As a youtube.com video reveals, by flipping through 455 individual tweets you’re greeted with an animation showing a Smart fortwo cruising down an Argentine street.  And, in keeping with the Tweet limits, the ad ends with a 140-character tagline that translates, from the Spanish original, into: “It fits in any space. Why not in 140 characters? Smart Fortwo…a big idea for the city.”

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Global Auto Growth Will Force Shift to Battery Power, Warns Zetsche

German maker's new charging system cuts time to as little as 1 hour.

by on Apr.06, 2012

Daimler CEO Zetsche wants to expand the maker's investment in battery technology.

Daimler AG is doubling down on electric propulsion – and backing its expanding investment in battery technology with the launch of a new charging system that can recharge the batteries for an electric Smart car in as little as one hour, Daimler chief executive officer Dieter Zetsche told the company’s shareholders as he addressed the company annual meeting.

The maker is looking at opportunities to grow electric car sales in not only key Western markets, but also in emerging markets such as China, where Zetsche told investors the technology has become “a big issue.” With worldwide car sales likely to increase by 50% before decade’s end, he stressed, automakers like Daimler have no alternative to turn to battery power.

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In the days leading up to the annual meeting, Daimler locked down a new joint venture with Chinese partner BYD – generally considered the leader in that market’s battery car technology – to launch the all-new Denza brand.  It will focus on launching a line of  affordable electric vehicles.

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