Daimler to ditch Smart, build Mercedes U-Class instead?
A fresh report suggests Daimler is considering phasing out its Smart brand and filling the void with a new small Mercedes-Benz model tentatively dubbed the U-Class.
According to Automobile, “various sources” suggest the Smart brand will be axed by 2026 at the earliest.
Why? Well, the platform underpinning both the ForTwo and the ForFour was developed in partnership with Renault (which runs the Twingo on the same architecture), but the French brand is apparently planning on pulling out of the deal at the end of the vehicles’ current life cycles.
Daimler, meanwhile, seemingly isn’t keen to go it alone on such a project, particularly since the Smart brand – which is interestingly in the process of going fully electric – isn’t exactly a roaring financial success. The only way the Smart brand could survive, the report adds, is through a partnership with a “strong” Chinese brand such as Geely.
If Smart is indeed axed, the publication furthermore reports Daimler will make a decision by 2021 on whether or not to replace these products with a Mercedes-badged model, which would likely be based on a next-generation modular platform (also expected to underpin the next A-Class).
The resulting U-Class – Automobile suggests the “U” would stand for both “urban” and “universal” – would be offered as a small hatchback positioned below the A-Class.
It is more than a roof, it is #rooflove. It is more than an addition, it is form and function. The smart forease+, which will be presented at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, is just as scaled back and dynamic as its predecessor - and is more than suited to all weather conditions in cities.
The smart forease+ is more than a showcar, it is the embodiment of the smart brand itself: individual, dynamic, sustainable. The smart forease+ shares the uncomplicated, consistent solutions for urban mobility with its predecessor model, the smart forease, which unapologetically leaves the top down and is scaled back to the essentials. It had its world première at the 2018 Paris Motor Show.
The smart forease+ logically develops the predecessor's minimalistic idea with additional form and function. Its flat fabric roof that extends far towards the rear turns the showcar into a cosmopolitan with classic speedster attributes. Drawn down deeply and only just about reaching over the two characteristic domes on the rear, the roof demonstrates what the designers call #rooflove: a completely new look.
The roof's construction demonstrates a loving attention to detail. A light yet firm fabric hard shell covered in a textile soft top fabric combines many benefits. It is light, robust and yet suitable all year round. The roof is designed to be removable and engages in two cut-outs on the rear which provide an apt reference to the model designation with the "+ push" lettering.
"As a stylish and well-thought-out idea, the smart forease+ shows the spirit of the brand: individual, scaled back and sustainable. The showcar is also an impressive statement of coolness and urbanity typical of smart", states Katrin Adt, head of smart.
"The smart forease+ projects its technical and creative intelligence in one clear emotion: #rooflove", explains Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler AG. "The unconventional concept, the self-confidence and the dynamics: the smart forease+ is a statement for urbanity."
The lack of any form of side windows and the open rear in combination with the shortened windscreen ensures a pure driving experience.
New Smart Forease+ concept gets the speedster treatment
New Forease+ adds a roof to earlier open-top concept, and will make public debut at Geneva show next week
Mercedes-Benz’s Smart city car division has revealed an updated speedster version of its Forease concept car, dubbed the Forease+, ahead of its public debut at next week’s Geneva motor show.
The revised two seater, first unveiled in open-top guise at the 2018 Paris motor show, receives a reinforced fabric roof that fits over its cabin, providing protection from the elements for its occupants, together with other subtle styling revisions.
Like the original Forease, the new concept is based on the Smart EQ Fortwo cabriolet and is intended to underline Smart’s “uncomplicated solution to urban mobility” with a pure electric driveline and compact dimensions.
Changes over the standard Smart Fortwo cabriolet include a shallower windscreen and prominent domes at the rear behind the seats for added roll over protection.
The new roof, described as a hard shell cover in a textile fabric, is designed to be removable. It is light, robust and yet suitable all year round, says Smart.
“The Smart Forease+ shows the spirit of the brand: individual, scaled back and sustainable. It is also a statement of urbanity typical of Smart,” says Katrin Adt, head of Smart.
The Forease+ borrows heavily from two previous open top Smart concept cars: the Crossblade revealed in 2002 and the Forspeed shown in 2011.
The Crossblade boasted an even more minimalist design ethos than the Forease+, eschewing doors, roof and windscreen. Although it was conceived as a concept car, it was placed into limited production.
The Forspeed was created to showcase Smart’s first-generation electric driveline. It featured a wind deflector in place of a windscreen as well as roll over hoops integrated into its body structure behind its seats.
Smart reveals Forease+ Concept, complete with ducktail!
Dubbed the Smart Forease+ Concept, this small EV project takes the stage at this month’s Geneva motor show showcasing future technologies from the Daimler subsidiary. That plus the fact that it features a unique canvas roof and charming ducktail spoiler.
Based off the current production Smart EQ ForTwo cabriolet the fabric roof is designed to make the Forease+ look like a classic speedster and covers the domes behind the driver and passenger seats. The fabric is both light and easy to remove yet robust enough for most weather conditions.
Maintain a “pure” driving experience, the Forease+ forgoes side- and rear windows. It also does away with glass lenses for the headlamps leaving three LED elements naked. The taillamps have been given a rhombic geometry similar the current ForTwo production model.
The cabin adopts rough amber-coloured Nappa leather while the seats are upholstered in contrasting black Nappa leather. The steering wheel looks suitably futuristic, too.
Smart promises a dynamic driving experience with this concept, its agility showcased by the prominent ducktail spoiler.
Smart promises that by 2020, all of its cars will be electric.
It’s official: Geely buys 50 percent of Smart from Daimler
Chinese automotive group Geely Holding has acquired a 50 percent stake in the Smart brand from Daimler, with the two firms confirming the deal in a joint statement.
Described as a “50:50 globally focused joint venture”, the two companies say they will own, operate and “further develop” the Smart brand together.
Under the agreement, the next generation of Smart electric vehicles will be assembled at a new purpose-built electric car factory in China, with global sales scheduled to begin in 2022.
Interestingly, though, the new vehicles will be styled by Mercedes-Benz with engineering coming from Geely. The statement furthermore revealed the Smart product portfolio would expand into the B-segment.
The board of directors of the new Smart joint venture will comprise six executives with equal representation from both parties.
German microcar brand is changing direction at 21.
Smart is celebrating an important milestone and massive changes in its future strategy, all at the age of only 21. Mercedes-Benz’s city car subsidiary has seen sales wane in the last few years and admitted that its future is now contingent on e-mobility. Smart even has a new part owner, Geely, to help it refocus.
The Chinese industrial powerhouse has already confirmed that Smart’s future will be battery powered, instead of internal combustion and with Geely commanding 50% of Smart’s equity, what the Chinese product planners want, will be crucial.
To bid farewell to the brand’s petrol-powered cars, Smart has collaborated with German aftermarket engineering specialist Brabus, to build a series of 21 Final Edition ForTwos. Fittingly, these Final Edition range will be limited to only 21 cars.