Smart would die in 2026 if Geely did not take responsibility for it. Daimler needed a partner to make it economically feasible to keep it alive. With its Chinese company in charge of production and engineering, the German manufacturer will be responsible solely for the design of the vehicles. That is pretty much all it has cared about in transitioning the company from an ordinary carmaker to an electric-only car brand. And that will officially happen at the next Frankfurt Motor Show, with the mid-cycle refresh of Smart’s current lineup.
When Hyundai presented the mid-cycle restyling for the Ioniq, we were positively surprised. The South Korean company managed to squeeze some more range into the car's battery pack, which made it a real improvement. It raised the bar for mid-cycle changes. Unfortunately, Smart did not make it with its now only cars.
The company is proud to say the ForTwo and the ForFour now have unique front bumpers. But you will have to see them side by side to spot the differences. It also speaks about the infotainment system, about an EQ control app that helps you warn the police in case anyone steals your Smart, and not much else.
When it relates to technical specifications, the electric Smart cars are more of the same. They still have 60 kW (80 hp) rear motors. Although Smart has not spoken about it, the battery pack retains a 17.6 kWh capacity. But that gets worse.
Despite being bigger, the ForFour EQ offers a smaller range because it does not have a proportionally larger battery pack. And it should. If you want a car that goes any farther, you’ll have to pick the smallest one.
Daimler invoked Nicolas Hayek’s name to explain the electric-only move at this point. It would be a tribute to his idea of having electric vehicles from the very beginning of Smart. Ironically, that was something Daimler declined to implement. And that eventually led Swatch’s founder to be out of the company by 1998.
The fact is that – as hard as it is to say that – eliminating the combustion-engined options from the brand at this point makes it much weaker than it already is. What comes next shows that pretty clearly.
Smart told us it has stopped producing ICE vehicles back in March 2019. It managed to sell the ones it produced until that point up to now. Despite the weak demand for them, there will be no electric cars to fill the gaps left by the gas-burning vehicles that are no more.
It is clear Daimler could not or did not want to spend much effort in making better electric products for Smart to hold tight until 2022. That’s when we will see the first new products under Geely management.
The Chinese Titan would better have something extraordinary to offer. It will not be only about keeping Smart alive. It will be practically a new foundation for the company that was meant to be fully electric from the start, but that only became so when it was almost too late.
Gallery: Smart Presents EQ Lineup Restyling Ahead Of Frankfurt Motor Show
smart EQ fortwo & smart EQ forfour: The new generation: ground-breaking, digital, urban
Stuttgart/Frankfurt. The new generation smart is one thing above all: authentically electric. The brand returns to its origins with the systematic switch to emission-free, battery-electric powertrains. In combination with progressive design and intelligent connectivity, smart already offers a sustainable and comprehensive concept for urban mobility today.
Rethink – "The car of the future must question existing notions and inspire with radical and ground-breaking technology ideas", as Mercedes-Benz studio engineer and visionary Johann Tomforde put it in a nutshell back in 1972.
Since then, Mercedes-Benz has worked on a concept of a purely urban vehicle whose powertrain needs to be not only electric, but also a solution for future urban mobility challenges.
The smart with environment-friendly electric powertrain finally became a reality in 2007 with the concept of visionary Nicolas Hayek. Since then, smart has offered an all-electric option in every generation. With the new fortwo and forfour models, the time has finally come: smart is switching to emission-free, battery-electric powertrain technology across the board.
"As a pioneer of urban mobility, it has always been part of smart's credo to rethink things. The switching of the entire product range to all-electric powertrains marks the start of a new chapter in the story of the smart brand. In concert with innovative sharing concepts and digital services, we are the first manufacturer to switch completely and systematically from combustion engines to solely electric powertrains", as Daniel Lescow, Head of Brand and Product Management smart, explains the motivation behind the dawn of a new era for the brand.
Rediscover – A new era. In design, too
A smart makes life in the city easier. With its radical concept and new ideas, smart has always offered the right solutions for urban daily life. At the same time, it is always easy to use and intuitive to understand. Trimmed down to the essentials, a smart gives you more time, more energy and, above all, more freedom.
With the systematic switch to battery-electric powertrain technology, smart is now driving back to the future. The brand does not need to reinvent itself at all to do so, it merely has to rediscover itself. Because electric power was always meant to be at the heart of the smart. To express this, the designers drew inspiration from the iconic details of the first generations and interpreted them for the new era of electric mobility. As a result, an original becomes what it has always been: an electric original.
"The new smart is radically simple. We orchestrated the typical smart identity with the new faces“, explains Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. "In line with the smart DNA, we lower the grille and the headlamps above it and in this way create a sporty, progressive appearance."
Away from the playful in favour of the progressive: The new smart fortwo and forfour electric models now have different front ends for the first time. While the four-seater sports a dynamic "A-shape" open at the bottom with optional integrated fog lamps familiar from the Vision EQ fortwo show car, the fortwo keeps the familiar friendly face. With the return to the emblem-free "V-shape" grille in combination with the smart logotype above it, the brand is echoing the stylistic beginnings of the first models. The colour scheme is new for both models: For the first time, the front grilles of the fortwo and forfour are painted in the vehicle colour and no longer in a contrasting shade.
The headlamps also ensure the new clarity in the structuring. With the systematic switch to battery-electric powertrains, there is also the option of bright and long-lasting Full-LEDs. smart now adopts the aspects of the forease and forease+ concept vehicles that excited people in its production models . Three large active LED elements provide not only a characteristic light graphic, but in addition to dipped beam and main beam also serve as direction indicators. In combination with the indicators, the new optional Full-LED headlamps also greet the driver with an impressive welcome show after unlocking the vehicle.
The tail lamps on the updated smart models are another visual and technical highlight. Sporting the familiar rhombic basic geometry, hundreds of elaborately arranged LED lighting elements now form the lamp contours. Beneath the flat plastic cover, they provide not only a special depth effect, but also homogeneous illumination. This gives rise to an ever-changing light graphic, depending on the viewer's distance from and angle to the vehicle.
The remaining styling features stay typically smart. In concert with the wheels mounted flush in the wide wheel wells, its "one-and-a-half box“ design with the extremely short overhangs at the front and rear still results in the characteristic powerful stance on the road. The sight lines and the record-breaking manoeuvrability continue to be strong arguments in favour of the mini-metropolist, of course.
Its spaciousness likewise remains generous. The fortwo and forfour are still unrivalled when it comes to interior space in relation to exterior dimensions. No other car offers so much space on such a small area as the two new smart models. To enable even better use of the space, the designers devised an all-new centre console. In place of the hidden drawer at the side, there now is a large stowage compartment in front of the selector lever, which can be closed with a roller cover. Even the largest smartphones can now be stowed securely here. Alternatively, the new stowage compartment can also accommodate two coffee cups thanks to its removable dual cup holder.
Refresh – Always up-to-date: the new infotainment concept
Apart from the new centre console, the most striking innovation in the interior is the significantly expanded connect media system. The newly developed infotainment generation opens up a new dimension in flexibility and ease of use. The new UX concept means that, for the first time, smart purely relies on the seamless interaction with customer mobile phones and their computing power.
By focusing on the essentials such as the eight-inch touch screen and high compatibility with various smartphone systems, customers receive not only a more affordable infotainment solution, but above all a solution that is intuitive for them to operate and upgradable. As soon as they switch to a new smartphone or a software update makes new apps available, they are immediately also introduced in the smart.
With this customer-friendly concept, smart sets itself clearly apart from the competition and demonstrates that most often the simplest solutions deliver the greatest benefit.
Remote – Infinitely digital. And vice-versa
smart is not only becoming infinitely electric, but also infinitely digital. In order to offer customers the best possible service, smart has redesigned its entire digital offering. The new appearance is not only easier and more intuitive to operate, it is above all standardised. Websites and smartphone as well as wearable applications now have the same minimalist interface.
The smart EQ control app brings electrifying mobility to drivers' smartphones. It is the digital companion for smart drivers and enables them to retrieve the status of their vehicle remotely. As a result, they always know their vehicle's range and the battery charge level, and can conveniently plan their daily trips. Pre-entry climate control, which allows heating or cooling the car conveniently via app, is another of the app's important functions.
Since their introduction last year, customers have been using the digital services every two days on average. The further advancement of the smart EQ control app is based on this group's feedback, wishes and suggestions for improvement.
As a result, the app gets a new face to tie in with the model facelift. The design now dovetails with the newly designed minimalist interface of the digital smart services. However, not only the interface of the app was optimised. The new version also improves the direct interaction with customers. Thanks to the newly created communication field, the communication overlay, messages can be sent to the smart driver quickly and directly. This makes it possible to inform customers about upcoming maintenance or the status of the app, for example.
Another request by customers was faster access to the most important features of the app. With the integration into the smartphone widgets and an Apple Watch application, smart now gives users information even more directly. With a quick glance at the Apple Watch on their wrist, customers can now retrieve the current battery status, check the vehicle range or start pre-entry climate control. This makes the smart EQ control app and its functions even easier to access and creates a digital connection between the customer and their smart.
"my smart": keeping tabs on your smart
As the central port of call, "my smart“ forms the hub for all digital services related to the brand. Any time and anywhere. Customers can retrieve the location of their own smart in real time. "my smart" also enables remote access. This makes keyless locking and unlocking of the vehicle possible, for example.
smart "ready to" services: pooling digital added value
smart's mobility offering has included customer-friendly services for six years now, making it a pioneer of comprehensive mobility services. smart "ready to" stands for innovative services which make life easier in the city. smart established the smart lab in 2016 as the brand's think tank to accelerate the development and implementation of creative urban mobility projects.
Further trailblazing services are under development at the smart lab. These will be made available successively to all smart drivers with the "ready to" package by means of over-the-air updates, without any need to visit a workshop.
The services continue to be bundled in one mobile app and make smart a full-range mobility services provider. They make all aspects of motoring that much easier. Be it information on the car itself, recharging, parking, navigation, loading or even sharing with friends and neighbours – "ready to" has all these functions covered in a single mobile application. The all-new user interface makes using the services child's play. The dashboard in modular design further enhances the user experience. The app even applies artificial intelligence to predict the user's wishes according to the given situation.
The developers at the smart lab are concerned not so much with creating a zeitgeist product, but rather with generating real added value. To this end, they are forging ahead with the ongoing development of smart "ready to" services. All services designed to make life in the city easier are bundled in a mobile application. Now for the first time, the services show users in the new "my smart" control centre not only status information when the vehicle is stationary, but also report charging stations ahead while driving when the battery has a low charge.
"ready to share". sharing the easy way
Since 2016, smart "ready to share" has been making private car sharing as simple, safe and straightforward as using car2go. Authorised users can open friends' smart models in a matter of seconds, using their smartphone. smart "ready to share" is smartphone-based and uses the vehicle's keyless entry function. Three factors make smart "ready to share" unique: the safety and security of a solution provided by the manufacturer, complete control by the vehicle owner as the sole administrator and decision-maker, and simple and inexpensive handling.
The payment function for "ready to share" helps smart owners who share their cars to split the costs, too. The smart owner can invite friends and acquaintances to use their vehicle in two user groups: users in the "Free travel" group get to drive the vehicle free of charge, while in the "Share travel costs" group the owner can set an individual price per minute. The payment data are stored to ensure problem-free payment.
The payment function is initially available in Germany; the "ready to share" service is available in Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
"ready to park": More convenient parking by app
The convenient online search function for parking spaces. With "ready to park", a glance at your smartphone suffices to view the available parking options in your selected area in real time. In some instances, the located parking spaces can be reserved directly – for immediate use or up to 30 days in advance.
"ready to spot": back to your smart in next to no time
The smart "ready to spot" service shows not only where the smart is parked, but also the best route to get there. The integrated "REACH NOW" app additionally enables various means of transport, such as local public transport or car sharing, to be compared and booked directly. Where necessary, the "ready to spot" app can also be used to briefly turn on the headlamps of the parked car to make it easier for the driver to find the vehicle.
"ready to pack": easy loading
The "pactris" app has been helping smart drivers to load their car boot for two years now: "pactris" uses a sophisticated algorithm which tells the user whilst shopping whether and how everything will fit in the boot of the smart. The user scans the bar code on the product – for example in a furniture store – and the app, which is integrated into the "ready to pack" app, shows how the packages will fit in their smart.
Alternatively, the user can select items from a constantly growing database where typical items are stored. This also shows whether, for example, a drinks crate or a packing case will still fit in the fortwo or forfour. The augmented reality function additionally enables scanning an object directly with the smartphone camera.
"theft recovery": The digital early warning system against theft
Fast assistance when a smart goes missing. With "theft recovery", users are informed by push notification as soon as their vehicle leaves an area they previously defined – the geofence. In the event of the vehicle leaving a pre-defined area, the user receives an automatic warning and step-by-step instructions on activating recovery mode. The app guides the user through the entire process, including notifying the police of the car theft with all the required information.
Reinvent – Three clicks instead of a forty-five page price list
The days when you laboriously read through the price lists are over. With the new-generation smart, the equipment level structure also becomes smarter. In addition to the base model, the three familiar equipment lines passion, pulse and prime are available. Each line can be combined with one of three equipment packages. The smallest package, "Advanced“, already includes the new media system with smartphone integration, a front armrest as well as an acoustic parking aid. Building on it, the "Premium“ package additionally includes a panoramic roof or rather a draught stop on the fortwo cabrio, a reversing camera and a stowage net at the centre console. The top of the range is the "Exclusive“ package, which in addition to the "Premium" equipment has Full-LED lights at the front and rear as well as a sensor package comprising rain and light sensor, fog lamps with cornering light function, ambient lighting in the interior and an automatically dimming inside rear-view mirror.
Now all the customer has to do is pick a colour, and their new smart is complete. That choice is now even more difficult, however, because the new models are available in new, fresh colours. For the fortwo, carmine red and gold beige are now available for the tridion cell and the body panels as well as lime green only for the body panels. The colour card for the forfour now lists ice white as a new colour for the body panels and the tridion cell. The new steel blue for the four-door model remains exclusive to the body panels. In the interior, there are new designs for the upholstery fabric and an additional colour option for the passion and pulse equipment lines. In addition to black/black, there is now also black/blue, which provides more contrast in the interior, including the topstitching and the accent pieces. Furthermore, there are four new rim designs. They are each available for the equipment lines in silver and bi-colour with diameters of 15 or 16 inches. Anyone looking to give their new smart EQ fortwo or smart EQ forfour a particularly clean and electric look can opt for two rims with especially aerodynamic styling. The 15-inch four-spoke light-alloy wheels and the 16-inch four-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels give the car a road-hugging appearance. In addition to enhanced dynamism and agility, the wheels underscore the clear commitment to the brand's electric future.
Regain – electrifying driving fun
A short wheelbase and an immense track in combination with direct steering make the smart uniquely agile. The all-electric driving experience opens up a completely new dimension in driving enjoyment. With 160 Newton metres of torque available instantly, the new electric models accelerate far better than the 60 kW/82 hp of the separately excited synchronous motor in the rear might suggest. 4.8 seconds for 0 to 60 km/h when the light turns green makes the smart EQ fortwo coupé quick enough to draw astonished looks and provide low-noise driving enjoyment. The new smart models systematically continue to play to all the strengths of the battery-electric powertrain technology. Thanks to clever packaging and the return to the core of the brand, the concept remains light and resource-friendly, and offers sustainable mobility in metropolitan areas. That is why smart offers a deliberately compact high-voltage battery. The lithium-ion battery supplied by Daimler-owned Deutsche Accumotive consists of three HV modules and a total of 96 HV cells, and has a capacity of 17.6 kWh, sufficient for a range of 159 kilometres (NEDC). This corresponds not only to several times the average daily kilometres driven in Germany, but above all to a generous range in the metropolitan environment where energy can be recovered through recuperation. Radar-based recuperation in the city is a particularly convenient feature. It allows the smart to slow down automatically behind a vehicle ahead. Coasting and braking phases are perfectly coordinated to enable the maximum amount of kinetic energy to be returned to the battery. In order for the smart to keep a cool head even in extreme climatic conditions and under extreme stress, special attention was paid to the temperature management in the electric models. While generously sized air cooling is enough for the electric motor, its flange-mounted power electronics are liquid-cooled. Even the high-voltage battery can be completely conditioned. When needed, it is integrated into the cooling circuit of the powertrain to remain in the optimal temperature range under high permanent load or during fast charging, for example. The same is true when temperatures are extremely low. A battery heater enables warming up the battery for optimal performance and efficiency.
Recharge – Quick and everywhere charger
To make recharging as easy as possible for drivers, smart offers a comprehensive charging concept for its new electric models. With its optional 22 kW on-board charger with rapid-charging function, the new models are charged from 10% to 80% range in under 40 minutes and without having to rely on rare direct-current charging stations if three-phase charging is possible, depending on local conditions. Thanks to the cooperation with charging network partner Plugsurfing, customers can now use virtually all public charging stations. These charging stations can be displayed with the smart EQ control app, and users can sign up with Plugsurfing directly in the app. But even those who only have a conventional household socket at home will be satisfied EV drivers thanks to the low consumption of the smart electric models. The smart charges enough for the average daily driving distance in a little over 3.5 hours at a 230V socket - entirely without a wallbox. Anyone who travels more often and above all farther from home will be delighted with the charging convenience of the smart EQ control app. The seamless integration of the registration and billing process at public charging stations in the completely redesigned smart EQ control app makes the smart a true everywhere charger.