• Aug 31st 2010 at 8:54AM
  • 12
Smart ED – Click above for high-res image gallery

The sad tale of Smart, especially in the U.S. market, is a prime example of the adage to "be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." Smart has faced multiple problems, ranging from its design to its execution. On the design side, small vehicles with only two seats have always had a very limited appeal, especially in the U.S. market. People may drive alone most of the time, but that doesn't meant they want to be restricted to just one passenger. The execution of the Smart ForTwo is undoubtedly a far larger problem, with both the transmission behavior and the disappointing fuel economy leaving many drivers wanting. Weak U.S. sales that are likely to fall short of 8,000 units in 2010 (3,909 so far through July) mean that global sales probably won't hit 100,000 this year.

Unfortunately, Smart's outlook is likely to remain weak for at least several more years until the next-generation model arrives. The new car will be codeveloped with Renault on a common platform with the next-generation Twingo and should see the return of the four-seat ForFour model and the demise of the annoying semi-automatic transmission used in the current ForTwo. Until then, the only way to avoid Smart's transmission issues is to get one of the 250 available battery-powered Smart Fortwo ED . The electric Smart should have wider availability in 2012 when Daimler drops the current Tesla-sourced battery in favor of a pack using lithium-ion cells from the Daimler-Evonik joint venture Deutsche Accumotive GmbH.

[Source: Automotive News - sub req'd]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      It just is not that great of a car. It is nice that they made such a safe small car. But beyond that, it is not very good. The MPG is not very good. It has some transmission issues. It is really small. The aerodynamics sucks.

      I appreciate the effort to make small car but it can be done better.
      • 4 Years Ago
      *frothing at mouth* update your damn powertrain!!

      < /obligatory middle way response >
      • 7 Months Ago
      2-seaters are a niche product here in the U.S., normally confined to sports cars.

      The new Fiat 500 would be a better choice for most as an EV rather than a Smart.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am as much a nay sayer about how smart has approached the US as anyone in terms of the engine they went with and its lack of efficiency..
      And I have been critical too of the tranny.

      However - let's be a little fair.
      Many, many car companies would be happy to sell 100,000 units.
      And there is some brilliant engineering in the little car.

      When you think of the tranny and our lone engine choice it seems rather like someone made a wonderful cake really - and then topped it with liver frosting.
      The cake is very nice.
      But only a select few have the palate for liver frosting.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am happy that economic circumstances have forced automakers to break the mold and try countless different configurations - 3 wheelers that lean, 4 wheelers with two seats, hydraulic hybrids, air cars, fuel cells, alcohols, etc.

      No doubt, when batteries, capacitors and fuel cells finally provide the energy / power to weight / cost ratios needed, automakers will again revert to the previously established forms, but for now, let's relish the explosion of creativity and the thrill of not knowing exactly how it will all turn out.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is absolutely the perfect platform for a commuter-only electric car. I'd love to have an electric smart as a secondary vehicle. I still enjoy seeing them around my streets, though I only see them occasionally. I love the styling and size, but the fuel economy and reports about the transmission killed my interest in a gas-powered smart. But I'm hopeful to hear test drive reports about the "ED" smart.
        • 7 Months Ago
        'I'm hopeful to hear test drive reports about the "ED" smart.'
        Here you go, http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Smart+ED+test+drive :-)

        Edmunds' review is good. The lease price for the Tesla-powered Fortwo is ridiculous. We can only hope M-B competes in 2012. Leasing small production runs mostly to government and corporations for "testing" is so tired, so 2009.
      • 4 Years Ago
      If you've driven one the reasons for their sales collapse are painfully obvious. Selling a tiny 2 seat car in the USA is a tough deal under the best of circumstances. Throw in not so great gas mileage, a terrible driving experience and disaster is guaranteed. Even the folks who HAD to have one have soured on them. Check the used cars prices for these cars to see what I mean. They desperately need a modern forfour.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well have a diesel Smart help with the gas mileage. Then main problem in my mind is simply the price... The car is to expensive new for what you get. Sure you get a quality car and good service... but at what cost. Buying a new Kia should come out better in the long run for a new car. The Smart is good buy for used car. You can only get you moneys worth then, specially if it's a diesel.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I would really like to be an owner of a battery-powered Smart, but until better times, I guess I will find my Smart here http://www.ooyyo.co.uk/used-cars/smart/united+states. My friend bought a car using them, and I am a bit sceptic regarding used Smart's. Does anyone have experience in that field?
      • 4 Years Ago
      These are very popular in Europe for really only one reason: you can park them where you couldn't park any other car. In many of the crowded European cities, they don't have the parking stripes that we have in the US. Where they do, they are often ignored. It's a total free-for-all. Driving a car that is as long as a standard car is wide can make a big difference. There, it's not Smart, it's brilliant.

      That advantage is irrelevent in the US. After seeing Smarts packed like sardines along the cobblestone streets of Rome, the site of one in a standard US parking spot made me laugh. US customers wanting a small, efficient 2 seater are much better off spending a little bit more on a Miata. In the US, the Smart is just stupid.
        • 7 Months Ago
        Good point. I've commented before on the costs associated with parking regulations. There's some very compelling and interesting reading on "The High Cost of Free Parking", and related topics. I recommend it.