When you think of small, eco-friendly cars, the first one that probably comes to mind is a Smart car. These tiny, yet mighty vehicles have been around for decades, becoming popular in the late 90s and early 2000s. Keep reading to learn about their history, what models are still available, and more.
How the Company Got Started
As ideas were brewing about what the future of cars would look like, SMH (a company that was far removed from the automotive market) began drafting the first version of what would become the Smart Car. This took place in the early 1980s. SMH entered a short-lived partnership with Volkswagen, who canceled the contract after feeling like it would bring too much competition between the brands.
A decade later, in 1994, the company entered a deal with Mercedes-Benz, now known as Daimler-Benz. Although there was some discrepancy over the name of the first vehicle that the companies would release, company stakeholders finally divided on the name “Smart,” which stood for “Swatch, Mercedes, Art.” While the initial European launch was successful, the car did not wholly meet the expectations of all the shareholders.
By 1998, the partnership decided to expand the models offered – including the Roadster and the Forfour. 2009 was when Smart released its electric vehicles, contributing to the eco-friendly nature that they are well known for today. While Smart cars are still readily available in many countries across the world, they have significantly scaled down a once large-scale manufacturing effort.
The Smart logo hasn’t changed much since its development in 1998. Its noncomplicated design reflects what manufacturers hoped the car could embody, a simple, clean, and refined automobile. The yellow and gray color scheme has varied in lightness and darkness, with the latest logo being paler than the first. The yellow triangle that is present before the name “Smart” resembles a play button, according to 1000 Logos, the “futuristic and progressive” nature of the “brand’s philosophy.”
Smart has had an interesting history when it comes to its sales. Focusing first on European sales, the company had a gradual increase when the cars were first introduced. The chart below depicts European sales for the company from 1998 to 2021, according to statistics compiled by CarSalesBase. However, a steady decline happened from 2008 to 2015. In 2015, however, sales increased dramatically – resembling numbers that had not been seen since prior to the global economic crisis. Another sharp decline was seen in 2020, most likely due to the pandemic. However, as of 2021, sales are on the rise again. Despite the tumultuous sales history, Smart cars seem to be as popular as ever amongst Europeans.
American sales did not fare as well, unfortunately. The chart to the left represents sales from 2008 to 2020. Although sales started out strong in 2008, by 2010, they had depleted. Despite a rise between 2012 and 2014, they could never regain popularity, especially when other manufacturers competed so strongly. As of 2019, the company stopped all retail sales of Smart cars in the U.S.
For the 2022 new release, Geely (in partnership with Daimler-Benz) is releasing the first battery-electric city car. Wards Auto describes some of the car’s new features. It is a rear-wheel-drive vehicle and features “distinctive headlamps joined by a light bar at the front” and “a clamshell hood, floating roof, and hatchback-style rear end with a tailgate that opens at bumper height.”
Picture is from: https://www.wardsauto.com/vehicles/smart-reveals-production-1-battery-electric-city-car.
Geely will also produce previous models like the ForTwo and ForFour, but plans for those have not been released yet for this year. These are two of Smart’s most popular models. The ForTwo comes with an average used price of $14,998 for a 2016 model. The ForFour comes with an average used price of $6,410 for older models.
Originally the brainchild of a Swiss watch-making company, the first factory for Smart was in Germany. After several transfers of ownership, the company’s headquarters is now located in Ningbo, China. They are currently owned by Geely, a Chinese automotive company.
Smart cars are available for purchase across the world, including in Europe and Asia. They can also be found in Mexico. They are no longer available in North America, Australia, along with other independent countries. Despite this, people who own Smart Cars (at least in the United States and Canada) can access routine maintenance care at certain Mercedes-Benz dealerships and other dealerships that sell European cars. Available in most states in the U.S. and territories in Canada, this is an attempt by Smart to continue taking care of their customers across the world – even though they aren’t releasing new models.
Smart cars are known for being extremely environmentally friendly. They use less fuel than other comparable models and have a smaller carbon footprint by design. According to Evox, once a Smart car is no longer drivable, 95% of the parts are recyclable. Their extremely small size also makes them good for the environment, simply by taking up less space. These cars also get good fuel economy at 32/29 MPG city/highway.
Despite their size, Smart cars have continually gotten high ratings from the Independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Looking to Sell a Smart Car for Cash?
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