Daimler, the company that owns the Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands, has ambitious plans for the city car automaker. Smart is already completely electric in North American and should become an EV-only maker in Europe by 2022. Apparently, that doesn’t mean the marque will survive for more than eight to ten years from now.
A new report from Automobile Magazine suggests Daimler could axe Smart entirely because Renault is not willing to continue its partnership with the brand. Currently, the two companies share a common platform for the Twingo/ForFour city cars, but once the duo reaches the end of its cycle the French automaker is going to pull out of the project.
Smart's short-term future:
According to the report, the initial plan is Smart to be wound up by 2026 at the earliest, unless another company shows interested in a new cooperation. Our source is mentioning Geely as a possible partner, but nothing can be said about a potential partnership at the moment.
If Smart disappears from the automotive business, Mercedes-Benz will have two options. It could either abandon the segment entirely or release a sub-A-Class model with a three-pointed star logo to compete against Mini and the Audi A1.
A final decision should be taken by 2021 when a new generation A-Class will be put on the drawing board. The current entry-level model of the company will move to a new fully-scalable architecture, which could be used to underpin a future baby Benz. This sounds like a pretty possible option because the so-called MX1 platform covers battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and traditional ICE-powered cars.
Tentatively called the U-Class (U coming from urban and universal), the mini Benz could be offered in three different versions, according to Automobile Magazine – U-Class City, U-Class Shuttle, and U-Class Cargo. The first is a traditional three- and five-door mini hatch, the second is an on-demand shared vehicle, and the third is a small panel van.
Source: Automobile Magazine