Daimler hopes that the Smart division will be profitable by offering two versions of the same car: the two seat Fortwo and the four seat Forfour.
Launched in 1998, the Smart brand has been a black hole for many years. With only one model in the range for five years, between 1998 and 2003, Daimler lost a lot of money with the Smart.
And all the development directions for the brand went to a dead end.
The Roadster/Coupe produced between 2003-2005 was a failure, due to very poor sales.
The first attempt to enlarge the range with a four door model was also a failure. The smart forfour, produced in 2004-2006 on a Mitsubishi Colt platform (Mitsubishi was part of Daimler family in those years), was also a failure, because it did not have any of the smart values – rear traction, rear engine, specific design.
All other versions of the original Smart, like the Crossblade or the Cabrio, were either too high-end, or simply not enough to reach profitable production level.
For this reason, Daimler has been looking for a partner for the third Smart generation.
The new Smart generation – Fortwo and Forfour – shares the platform with the Renault Twingo. All three vehicles almost have the same interior, the same engines and the same architecture – rear engine and rear wheel drive.
Despite sharing the same platform and a lot of components, 95% of the Smart and Twingo parts that are visible to the customers are different.
“The ForFour and the Twingo have a strong identity and brand integrity.” Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.
Zetsche explains that there are even stronger similarities between other models in the minicar segment and all are sold at the same level, referring to the Citroen C1, Peugeot 108 and Toyota Aygo, which are built in the same factory in the Czech Republic on a Toyota platform.
Smart fortwo is built in the Daimler factory in Hambach, France, while the Smart forfour is built alongside Renault Twingo at the Renault plant in Novo Mesto in Slovenia.
According to Automotive News Europe, the Smart brand head Annette Winkler said that sharing investments with Renault means that Daimler can offer better value for money, which “is crucial in the minicar segment.”
The new Smart generation will not have a diesel version any more. It would be too expensive to fulfill EU6 Norm with a small diesel and a such a small car is not designated for high mileage.
According to Automotive News Europe, a smart driver registers an annual mileage of 8,000 km, while for covering the high cost to develop a diesel engine, he should go for 17.000 km per year for eight straight years.
There are three petrol engines in the range: a 1-liter natural aspirated with 71 HP and now also with 60 HP and 0.9 turbo with 90 HP.
The Smart Forfour is not selling in North America, because it is considered too small for a four seat vehicle, according to the Amercian standards, but Smart Fortwo is selling globally.
Daimler expects Forfour to account one third of the Smart sales.
According to the IHS Automotive estimations, Daimler will produce 98,000 Smart Fortwo and 63,000 Smart Forfour this year.