Smart (marque)

Smart
Division
IndustryAutomotive
Founded1994; 24 years ago (1994)
HeadquartersBöblingen, Germany
Key people
Annette Winkler (CEO, 2010–present)
ProductsMicrocars
OwnerDaimler-Benz (1993-1998)
DaimlerChrysler (1998-2007)
Daimler AG (2007-present)
ParentMercedes-Benz
Websitewww.smart.com
smart Fortwo cabriolet
1993 eco-sprinter and eco-speedster concepts
smart Crossblade
smart Fortwo mhd cabrio (left), smart Fortwo mhd coupe (right)

Smart (stylized as smart)[1] is a German automotive marque and division of Daimler AG, based in Böblingen, Germany. It ranges in microcars and subcompacts, primarily the Fortwo and Forfour with its primary assembly plants located in Hambach, France and Novo Mesto, Slovenia. Marketed in 46[2] countries in Asia, North and South America, Africa, Australia and Europe, production of the Fortwo had surpassed 1.7M units by early 2015.[3][4][5]

The design concept for the company's automobiles began at Mercedes-Benz in the early-70s and late-80s. After brief backing by Volkswagen, the first model was released by Daimler-Benz in October 1998. Several variants on the original design have been introduced, with the original being the "Fortwo".

Smart derives from cooperation with Swatch and Mercedes: Swatch Mercedes ART.[6] In its branding, the company lowercases its logotype and the logo incorporating a "c" and an arrow for "compact" and "forward thinking" respectively.

Origins

In late 1982, SMH (makers of the Swatch brand of watches) CEO Nicolas Hayek began developing an idea for a new car using the same type of manufacturing strategies and personalization features used to popularize Swatch watches. He believed that the automotive industry had ignored a sector of potential customers who wanted a small and stylish city car. This idea soon became known as the "Swatchmobile". Hayek's private company Hayek Engineering AG began designing the new car for SMH, with seating for two and a hybrid drivetrain.[7]

While design of the car was proceeding, Hayek feared existing manufacturers would feel threatened by the Swatchmobile. Thus, rather than directly competing, he preferred to cooperate with another company in the automotive industry. This would also relieve SMH of the cost burden in setting up a distribution network. Hayek approached several automotive manufacturers and on July 3, 1991, he reached an agreement with Volkswagen to share development of the new project.[8]

By 1993, Ferdinand Piëch had become CEO of Volkswagen and he immediately sought to terminate the project with SMH. Volkswagen had already been working on their own "three-litre car": a car which would consume three litres of fuel per 100 km of driving (the eventual Volkswagen Lupo 3L). Volkswagen's own concept was believed to be a better business proposition, featuring four seats and more cargo room.[9]

Hayek had suspected that Piëch would seek to end the agreement with SMH upon his ascendancy to the CEO position; therefore, he discreetly began approaching other car companies with the Swatchmobile project. Rebuffed by BMW, Fiat, General Motors and Renault, he finally reached an informal agreement with Daimler-Benz AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars.[10]

A deal was announced on March 4, 1994, at a press conference at Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart that the companies would join forces in founding Micro Compact Car AG (MCC). 49% of the initial capital of 50 million Swiss francs were provided by SMH and the remaining 51% by Daimler-Benz. The company consisted of two subsidiaries: MCC GmbH based in Renningen (a suburb of Stuttgart) which would design the car, and the then-unnamed manufacturing plant. SMH Auto SA, owned by Hayek, would design a hybrid electric drive system for the car, while Hayek Engineering would audit the design and manufacturing.[11]

The press conference also featured the debut of two concept cars: the eco-sprinter and eco-speedster, styled by Mercedes-Benz's design studio in California.[12] The cars were similar to the eventual Smart City-Coupé. No mention was made of the fact that SMH had no input in the design of these concepts,[13] and they were badged as Mercedes-Benzes.

By the end of April 1994, MCC had set up a head office in Biel, Switzerland.[14]

Other Languages
asturianu: Smart
azərbaycanca: Smart
беларуская: Smart
español: Smart
Esperanto: Smart
فارسی: اسمارت
français: Smart
hrvatski: Smart
Ido: Smart
Bahasa Indonesia: Smart (perusahaan otomotif)
italiano: Smart
עברית: סמארט
lietuvių: Smart
lingála: Smart
Nederlands: Smart (automerk)
پنجابی: سمارٹ
português: Smart (automóvel)
Simple English: Smart
slovenčina: Smart (automobil)
slovenščina: Smart (avtomobil)
suomi: Smart
Türkçe: Smart
українська: Smart (автомобіль)