Smart to bypass SUV gold rush, no convertible either
Daimler Smart has no plans to make the world’s smallest crossover SUV for the time being, contrary to recent reports out of Europe.
CEO Annette Winkler told Automotive News this week that rumours of a high-riding Smart appeared greatly exaggerated. “We are not planning an SUV,” she said, though she did add the old standard line of “never say never”.
The comments come in response to those Mercedes-Benz Cars — Smart’s parent — boss Dieter Zetsche, who told media in Shanghai a few months ago that any Smart expansion would encompass such a vehicle.
A Smart crossover actually makes a weird sort of sense. First, the Smart platform — co-developed with Renault and used on the French brand’s Twingo — is unique in its rear-drive, rear-engined configuration, and greater production scale at the Slovenian plant that produces it would make it more viable.
Secondly, calling the SUV market a zeitgeist would be a few years behind the times. Every brand under the sun, bar Ferrari, is either already selling SUVs, or has one or more in the works.
Winkler also ruled out a new-generation Smart roadster, saying the segment was too small for any such car to be economically sustainable. “Certainly not,” she said, when asked about a soft-top Smart.
Smart’s global sales are up almost 30.0 per cent percent to 50,835 units this year, boosted by an updated ForTwo and the ForFour, Daimler said on June 8.
Mercedes-Benz New Zealand has no plans to bring the Smart brand into New Zealand at this stage.
Nevertheless, it’s still a vaguely intriguing brand for a lot of car lovers here. After all, a rear-engined micro car is no common thing.