Electric Smart Brand Could Be Axed, Sub-A-Class Mercedes To Fill Void

OCT 27 2018 BY ANTHONY KARR 17

But before that, Smart is going electric-only worldwide.

Daimler, the company that owns the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, has ambitious plans for the city car automaker. Smart is already completely electric in North American and should become an EV-only maker in Europe by 2022. Apparently, that doesn’t mean the marque will survive for more than eight to ten years from now.

A new report from Automobile Magazine suggests Daimler could axe Smart entirely because Renault is not willing to continue its partnership with the brand. Currently, the two companies share a common platform for the Twingo/ForFour city cars, but once the duo reaches the end of its cycle the French automaker is going to pull out of the project.

According to the report, the initial plan is Smart to be wound up by 2026 at the earliest, unless another company shows interested in a new cooperation. Our source is mentioning Geely as a possible partner, but nothing can be said about a potential partnership at the moment.

If Smart disappears from the automotive business, Mercedes-Benz will have two options. It could either abandon the segment entirely or release a sub-A-Class model with a three-pointed star logo to compete against Mini and the Audi A1.

A final decision should be taken by 2021 when a new generation A-Class will be put on the drawing board. The current entry-level model of the company will move to a new fully-scalable architecture, which could be used to underpin a future baby Benz. This sounds like a pretty possible option because the so-called MX1 platform covers battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and traditional ICE-powered cars.

Tentatively called the U-Class (U coming from urban and universal), the mini Benz could be offered in three different versions, according to Automobile Magazine – U-Class City, U-Class Shuttle, and U-Class Cargo. The first is a traditional three- and five-door mini hatch, the second is an on-demand shared vehicle, and the third is a small panel van.

Source: Automobile Magazine

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17 Comments on "Electric Smart Brand Could Be Axed, Sub-A-Class Mercedes To Fill Void"

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eject

The forfour is rubbish anyways. The fortwo hopefully will carry on. At some point I probably will need a new one.

Nono13

I agree. But contrary to what the article seems to claim, I believe from what I rea6d that the Fortwo has the same platform. Just slightly modified.

So this end of cooperation is indeed a blow against the Fortwo also.

eject

The fortwo is a real Smart based on the trideon safety cell with the body panels bolted to this frame. The forfour is a conventional car were the body is the frame and the front wheels are driven like in the Twingo. The electric versions of both utilitise the same battery and drivetrain parts though.

Davek

I think you might be thinking of the original Forfour, which was based on the Mitsubishi Colt. The Twingo and the current Forfour are both real wheel drive, rear engine cars and share a platform with the Fortwo.

wavelet

The current ForTwo (as opposed to the ForFour / Twingo) isn’t an A-segment car, and doesn’t compete with them (even if it costs more). It’s not very successful, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mercedes decided to abandon the brand.

eject

They sell over 50k a year of the fortwo in Europe. In my street of 24 houses there are 5 but only mine is electric.

wavelet

That’s not a lot. The A-segment sells 1.25M cars/year overall in Europe; the Panda & Fiat 500 each sells >200K/year, the VW Up!, Hyundai i10, Toyota Aygo and Twingo each ~100K.
The 4-seaters in the A-segment have a lot more utility (and cargo room with rear seats folded), and actually cost less for the most part. Yes, the ForTwo is a bit shorter, but that’s pretty much its only advantage. Contrary to popular opinion, in most jurisdictions it’s not legal to park the ForTwo perpendicular to the curb, it’s just not enforced in many places.

viriato

Smart sold 100.000 cars. For a premium car (is quite expensive than any rival), are not bad numbers. Twingo sold near 80k. I think they aren’t bad values.

wavelet
The question isn’t whether those numbers are bad, it’s to what extent Daimler is making a profit on them. Recall originally the cars were supposed to be like Swatch watches (the CEO of Swatch came up with the idea, and founded the company) — priced at the lower end of the mid-range, and a focus on customizable plastic body panels. Recall also the original models had their own dirvetrain. For years now Mercedes has relied on a JV with Renault to amortize development; now we hear explicitly that Mercedes will abandon the line if Renault stops the Twingo — that pretty much has to mean that the cars aren’t profitable for Daimler without a partner for platform & engine design as well as the factory. That in turn implies the cars aren’t very profitable at current production numbers, so the cars aren’t a successs for Daimler. Recall that a lot of the expenses on a car are fixed: R&D for each model, testing, homologation & safety certification, designing and making the tooling, organizing the supply chains for all the outsourced parts etc. Also, component cost are higher for lower volumes. If a Smart car uses, say, the exact same gasket… Read more »
Kan

Fiat 500e is the only viable mini-e car. Water cooled batteries and FWD, both mandatory for winter driving.

eject

It has extra seats. What are they good for?

Vexar

pets. Toddlers in car seats.

S3XY

I don’t have pets or toddlers

Mark.ca

Ok, hookers then? Dead people u run over when texting….really anything.

Rasmus Christensen

You would be surprised how easy it is to fit 4 people in that car. My wife fits out child carrier + out cildseat with our daughter in the back of that car.

Davek

I’ve driven plenty of Smart EQs in the winter. They’re actually great fun; idiot proof if you need it, but you can get a nice bit of power oversteer if you provoke them. The 500e might be fun, but the Smart only really makes sense as an EV. Plus they can charge at 22 kW, which beats the FIAT six ways from Sunday.

vdiv

Feel bad for the people that have just recently bought a Smart. If dealerships disappear support for these cars will become a challenge, their value will plummet. This is the only French-made car one could buy in the US.