About three years ago, it was announced that Smart will be a joint venture between Daimler and the Chinese company Geely. In other words, the German giant has sold half of Smart to the Chinese from Geely, which already owns Volvo.
The contract was concluded at the time it was assumed that a new factory would be built in China, which would produce a new generation of electric Smarts. The cars will start production in 2022 and will be shipped from China to Europe. Daimler was to be responsible for the development of the new model, while Geely was responsible for building a factory capable of producing 150,000 vehicles per year.
Smart has just revealed that the first model of the new generation will have an unusual name … # 1. “Number 1” will be launched on the market at the end of 2022. Interestingly, the manufacturer assures that # 1 will be an SUV, although the photos showing the covered model show a car four-door hatchback with low suspension, which can be classified as a conventional hatchback in advance.
The # symbol in the name, in turn, refers to the digital age in which we are currently dealing.
Smart # 1 was announced at the end of 2021 with the presentation of the Smart # 1 Concept, which was shown at the Munich showroom. The car was built with a new electric vehicle module plate, which will also be used in cars manufactured by Geely, Volvo, and Lynk & Co.
The concept is 429 cm long (clearer than the Smart ForFour, which measures 350 cm). With these sizes, Smart # 1 will compete with eg Mini Electric or Honda e.
Let us remind you that Daimler launched the Smart brand in the late 90s of the last century. The first model was the Smart Fortwo, which was so small that it could be parked perpendicularly in parallel parking spaces. The following types (Forfour, Roadster), like the next generations of ForTwo, were already big and started to lose their big advantage, i.e. the possibility of parking almost everywhere. The result was a drop in sales.
Smart has never been profitable either. Analysts estimated the annual losses incurred by Smart at an average of EUR 700 million.
The start of production of next-generation Smarts in China will mean the end of production in Europe. The factory in Hambach, France, where the Smart ForTwo was built, has already been sold to British company Ineos, which has started producing the Land Rover Defender-inspired Grenadier model there.
However, the fate of the factory in Slovenia, where production of the ForFour ended in December 2021, is still unknown.