Daimler has informed its Smart dealers in the United States and Canada that, starting in April, it will no longer produce gasoline-powered vehicles. Instead, Smart will focus completely – instead focusing completely on its all-electric version of the two-seat Fortwo model. Once the last remaining gas-powered models are sold, Smart will limit North American sales to the battery-powered Smart Fortwo Electric Drive.
Primarily known for its upscale Mercedes-Benz vehicles, Daimler introduced the Smart brand in 1994. It took a decade to reach North America, arriving in Canada in 2004. In 2008 it made its debut in the United States to rave reviews. Over time, however, the novelty of driving an ultra-small car wore off, fuel prices dipped and demand for the Smart brand plummeted. Its first-year sales number of 24,000 was never attained again.
Is This a Smart Move? You Decide.
Smart took one last swing for the fences with their 2016 model, hoping a complete redesign of the Fortwo (its first total makeover since the 1990s) would help bring about an increase in sales. While they did, indeed, sell more cars in Europe, it made no difference here in America as the Fortwo saw another 15-percent dip from the 2015 numbers … to just 6,211 cars sold nationwide.
When you take everything into consideration, this decision can’t be completely surprising. It comes during a time when there does seem to be a keen interest in battery-powered automobiles – and it is yet another in a series of setbacks for small gas-powered cars in general, a category that has suffered of late.
But if this change is not successful, one has to wonder about the brand’s long-term future in North America.
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