Smart, a car brand that carries a smug name and appeals to smug people, might finally have the smile wiped off its face. Daimler reportedly is weighing killing Smart behind the wood shed, possibly as early as the end of the year.
It’s understandable, because sales of Smarts have been dismal. While the cult Smart following may think everyone else is insane, quite frankly a Smart Fortwo is completely impractical for pretty much everyone. Unless you count the passenger seat, cargo space is pretty much nonexistent, as are crumple zones.
To try turning Smart into a profitable brand, Daimler decided to switch it completely to electric powertrains. That still didn’t cause people to clamor for the chance to drive one of the microcars, because Teslas and Leafs still have plenty of other practical attributes.
Adding to the stress for Daimler, Renault has been considering an end to the development partnership for the Smart Fortwo and Renault Twingo, which would inflate operational costs big time. Also, the pricey switch to EVs may have actually been what’s finally convinced Daimler to shut the whole thing down.
It’s estimated Daimler has lost a few billion dollars on Smart since the brand launched, and in the end that’s what matters most. After all, automakers have to make money to keep the lights on.