Nicholas Hayek passed away on Monday, June 28

The man responsible for the Smart Car has reportedly passed away at the age of 82 of heart failure. Nicholas Hayek was a savvy businessman who wanted to apply the success he had experienced in the watchmaking world to car universe. Hayek brought affordability to the Swiss watch market with his Swatch products, and envisioned an automobile that would be just as customizable and affordable as his then wildly popular time pieces. What would eventually become the Smart Car was originally a joint venture with Volkswagen that flew under the Swatchmobile banner.

But the VW partnership eventually hit the rocks, and Mercedes-Benz stepped in to lend a hand. Oddly enough, Hayek left the Smart Car program after Mercedes-Benz balked at his ideas for a diesel-hybrid model. Now Smart is launching its all-electric ForTwo ED.

While the Smart portfolio hasn't exactly taken the world by storm – or made money for its owners – there's no denying its impact. Nearly everyone knows what the quirky little cars are, even if they've never driven one. Hayek's brief time in the automotive spectrum had a lasting effect that will likely continue on for years to come.

[Source: The New York Times]