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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 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 or Dumb Sales Plan?

Customization option is likely the most aggressive ever offered.

by on Jul.08, 2010

Turn a Smart fortwo into a personal statement with the maker's new Smart Expressions program -- but is it little more than a gimmick?

With sales taking a sharp tumble, Smart USA is hoping to rebuild demand by giving buyers the ability to extensively customize the brand’s fortwo microcar.

The new program, dubbed Smart Expressions, will not only let buyers choose from 93 paint colors, but also bring a color swatch of their own to match the color of their car to just about anything – whether a shade of lipstick or the colors of a favorite sports team.

Smart will also offer a series of full or partial vehicle wraps. Eventually, buyers may be offered the ability to design their own vehicle wraps.

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Marketing!

Smart is looking for some sort of spark to bring it out of its sales funk. Earlier this year, Jill Lajdziak, former general manager of GM’s Saturn brand, was tapped by Smart USA distributor Roger Penske to take over from the brand’s first manager, Dave Schrembi. Sales dropped 38% between its 2008 launch and the 2009 sales meltdown that affected the entire auto industry.

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First Look: Renault Kangoo TomTom

A car and truck like this could save Chrysler or smart.

by on Jan.15, 2010

These mini-minivans have huge sales potential as the next "small" thing in my view. And makers are once again missing an opportunity.

Renault has just introduced a new TomTom Edition in Europe of its wildly popular Kangoo. It is the fifth special edition of the 2010 Kangoo range, which includes existing Access, Authentique, Expression and Privilège versions.

In France, Kangoo is the best-selling vehicle in its class in both the private car and light commercial segments.

Like the original Chrysler minivan, or the original four-door Jeep Cherokee, (both of which went unanswered for years as Chrysler printed money from their sales) these mini-minivans have huge sales potential as the next small thing in my view. And makers are once again missing an opportunity.

Here, there is an opportunity with far great sales potential for Chrysler than the cute — but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500 model.

Here's a minivan with far greater sales potential for Chrysler than a cute -- but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500.

The Citroen Berlingo – shut out of the U.S. market — and the Fiat Fiorino, which is derived from it, are other variants of the type.

Here, there is an opportunity with far greater sales potential for Chrysler than the cute — but hopelessly small for Americans – Fiat 500 model that is coming next year.

How about a Fiorino derived camper version from the Jeep brand, as well as Chrysler luxury models and Dodge truck derivatives?

If Chrysler is to be a comeback company, it needs to gamble on such new things in the U.S. market. New decals,  which debuted on Jeep Wrangler models at the NAIAS, will only go so far.

A Kangoo could also easily be successful here as a Smart or Mercedes-Benz model – one personal, the other commercial. During 2008, Smart sold 24,622 copies of its pint-sized fortwo, a figure that plunged 38% in 2009. (more…)

Sneak Peek: Scion IQ Microcar Concept

A Smart-(like) idea for America’s urban motorists?

by on Apr.08, 2009

Scion thinks it has a smart idea with its IQ concept, and could launch a U.S. version early in the coming decade.

Scion thinks it has a smart idea with its IQ urban transportation concept, and could launch a U.S. version early in the coming decade.

Bigger is better, or so goes the traditional automotive mantra.  But things are changing in a big way, as more and more of the global population moves back into the cities.  Despite the worldwide recession, Daimler’s Smart car factory can barely keep up with demand, and a growing number of makers are giving serious thought to enter the so-called “urban transportation market.”

Earlier this week, GM unveiled a prototype, dubbed PUMA, it’s developing as part of an unusual joint venture with Segway.  Now comes word that Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion division may make a move into the city car segment with a pint-sized offering dubbed IQ, a tricked-out version of which is making its debut at the New York International Auto Show.

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Smart’s Sound Idea

Comes complete with sound effects.

by on Mar.04, 2009

Smart's Brabus electric drive concept.  Would the Jetsons want one?

Smart's Brabus electric drive concept. Would the Jetsons want one?

We’ve always thought that the Smart fortwo looks like something out of science fiction. Maybe the Jetsons? If we could only find the button that makes the already tiny two-seater fold up into briefcase.

Well, all doubts vanished with the Geneva Motor Show launch of the Smart Brabus ED Concept.

The Daimler AG subsidiary has already shown us a battery-powered version of its fortwo model. A number of them are already charging around Berlin, as part of a mobility test program, with 100s more set to roll out later this year.
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