Since Job 1 came from the factory in July 1998, Mercedes has sold over 900,000 fortwo vehicles in 37 countries (including the U.S. starting this year, thank you very much; China will get a real chance at the fortwo in about twelve months). Still, for many green car enthusiasts, it's the future that is most exciting about the smart vehicle lineup. 2010, after all, is when the all-electric smart is due.
Quirky at its launch - and today - the fortwo was the right move for Daimler, as chairman Dieter Zetsche said in a statement: "Had we not invented it ten years ago, we would have to do so now." You can read the rest of Daimler's look back at the first decade of the fortwo after the break.
10 Years of the smart fortwo - a Vehicle with Cult Status Celebrates its Birthday
Böblingen, Jul 07, 2008
- By now, smart fortwo has won over far more than 900,000 smart enthusiasts in 37 countries
- Since beginning of 2008 also successful in the U.S. - market launch in China in mid-2009
- Introduction of smart electric drive planned for 2010
- Unique concept, cutting-edge technology, active safety and exemplary fuel efficiency
On July 2, 1998, a vehicle with an entirely new concept first rolled off the assembly line: the smart fortwo. On that date an extraordinary success story commenced in Hambach, France. Until now, the compact two-seater has become the vehicle of choice of more than 900,000 customers in 37 countries. The smart fortwo soon got cult status and is the only automobile which is still in production to be displayed at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Since beginning of 2008 the smart is being successfully sold in the U.S. and starting from mid 2009 it will also be available in China. For 2010 the first smart electric drive of the current vehicle generation is planned.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "The smart fortwo is a unique car that combines driving pleasure with lifestyle and exemplary fuel efficiency. The two-seater convinces customers worldwide, thanks to its outstanding safety features, the distinctive smart design, as well as top quality, reliability, and economy. The smart fortwo is a clever solution and fun to drive. Had we not invented it ten years ago, we would have to do so now."
smart sales approaching the one million mark
In the tenth year since its market launch, the smart fortwo can look back on an impressive sales development. The trendy two-seater has not only become successfully established on the market during this time; over 150,000 customers have purchased a second-generation smart fortwo since the model was introduced in March 2007. All in all, far more than 900,000 smart fortwos have been delivered to customers since the two-seater was launched in 1998.
The smart fortwo in particular is the choice of customers with an individual lifestyle in many major cities all over the world. Whereas the car was initially offered in Germany and eight other European countries, the innovative two-seater is now sold in 37 countries on five continents, including in the U.S., South Africa, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mexico, Australia, Malaysia, and Canada.
smart now also available in the U.S. - and soon in China
In mid-January 2008, smart's U.S. sales partner, the Penske Automotive Group, began delivering the first vehicles to customers in the world's largest automotive market. In total, 11,400 U.S.-Americans already took delivery of their very own smart cars.
The smart fortwo will also be available to Chinese customers from mid 2009 on, allowing the brand to enter another major automotive market. The vehicle is in effect custom-tailored to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of customers buying small cars in China. "In China, too, we are observing growing customer interest in our high-quality and economical smart fortwo. I am sure that many lifestyle-oriented customers in China's cities will soon come to love its unique concept," said Dr. Zetsche when smart's entry into the Chinese market was announced at Auto China in April 2008.
smart fortwo electric drive to be introduced in 2010
At the end of last year, smart launched a pilot project in London, for which the company and selected fleet customers are jointly testing 100 smart fortwo electric drive to determine how the vehicles perform under conditions encountered in everyday use. "We are currently developing a smart fortwo with electric drive and lithium-ion batteries, and we plan to introduce an electric drive version of the current smart generation in 2010," said Zetsche."
The success story - 10 years of the smart fortwo
The vehicle developers at Mercedes-Benz began designing the "Car of the Future" back in the 1970s, when they thought of taking revolutionary approaches to create a super-compact automobile. In 1989, Nicolas G. Hayek, the inventor of the Swatch, won the interest of Mercedes-Benz to create a small car for city driving. The two partners established the Micro Compact Car AG, headquartered in Biel, Switzerland. The smart fortwo (known as the city coupe at the time) celebrated its world premiere at the 1997 IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt. In a move that expressed the company's commitment to Europe, the French town of Hambach was chosen as the production location for smart. The smart plant (also known as "smartville") commenced production in 1997. The assembly line, which is shaped like a "plus" symbol, optimally fulfills all logistical and assembly requirements. The efficient design of the plant's production processes reduces transport and logistics effort to a minimum. But that's not the only reason the location in Lothringen is known for its environmentally friendly production processes: the facility supports the brand's environmentally responsible nature by means of its environmentally friendly painting process, an energy management concept featuring numerous energy-saving measures, and the design of the vehicles themselves. Sales of the fortwo commenced in October 1998. In the same year, smart became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler-Benz AG (now Daimler AG).
In subsequent years, smart launched the smart roadster and smart roadster-coupe (2003) as well as the compact four-seat smart forfour (2004). After the decision to cease production of the smart roadster and the smart forfour, at the end of 2005 and in mid-2006 respectively, smart focused its efforts exclusively on the smart fortwo. Europe's youngest automobile brand has also repeatedly demonstrated its creative strengths. For example, it presented the smart crossblade (2002), which was designed without a roof, doors and windshield, and the smart crosstown show car (2005), which featured a trendsetting hybrid drive.
Whatever their lifestyles or origins may be, customers from all over the world today are enthusiastic about the smart. For many, the smart fortwo is a kind of 'automotive declaration of independence'. Measuring barely over two-and-a-half meters in length, the car even fits into parking spaces crosswise. The vehicle safely and comfortably transports two passengers, while also having enough room for their luggage. The car is also climate-friendly as it is very fuel efficient and exemplary in terms of CO2 emissions. Even ten years ago, the smart was thus already providing solutions to many urgent questions related to urban mobility.
The fortwo is a unique car with an eye-catching exterior. Its unmistakable features include a mix of materials that is a hallmark of the brand. The components consist of a steel core known as the tridion safety cell and a flexible bodyshell made of dyed thermoplastic body panels. The smart fortwo's distinctive design therefore combines various functional, aesthetic, and safety requirements to create something totally new. That makes the two-seater not only a visual trendsetter among micro cars, but also an automotive icon that embodies functionality and the enjoyment of life.
The success story continues with the second generation
The second generation of the smart fortwo was launched in April 2007. The new model follows in the footsteps of its predecessor and once again sets new standards when it comes to safety features for small cars. The vehicle's tridion safety cell acts like the hard shell of a nut to protect the car's occupants. Not only does this allow the smart fortwo to meet the very demanding safety standards of Mercedes-Benz Cars, it also fulfills the requirements of EuroNCAP and of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Standard safety equipment in the smart fortwo includes full-size airbags for the driver and passenger as well as seat-belt tensioners and belt force limiters. Head-thorax sidebags are available as an option. Another standard feature is esp, which is not even available at a surcharge in many other micro cars. esp incorporates hill start assist and the abs anti-lock braking system. The hydraulic Brake Assist system is also fitted as standard.
The diesel-powered smart is the world champion for low CO2 emissions
In the rear of the smart fortwo is a compact, cutting-edge three-cylinder engine with a displacement of 999 cubic centimeters. The engine versions currently available in Western Europe consist of two naturally aspirated engines generating 45 and 52 kW (61 and 71 hp), respectively, as well as a turbocharged engine with an output of 62 kW (84 hp). A three-cylinder turbo engine also powers the smart fortwo BRABUS, generating 72 kW (98 hp).
The brand also offers a diesel variant - the smart fortwo cdi, which is the world champion in terms of low CO2 emissions. The 33 kW/45 hp two-seater consumes an average of 3.3 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (NEDC) and can travel for about 1,000 kilometers before having to be refueled. At 88 grams per kilometer, the car also has the world's lowest CO2 emissions of a series-production vehicle. Twenty percent of smart drivers in Germany and Italy take to the road in the fuel-efficient diesel variant.
To further reduce CO2 emissions of the gasoline engines, smart also offers the smart fortwo mhd (micro hybrid drive) in Europe. The vehicle has an output of 52 kW/71 hp and is equipped with an intelligent start/stop system that automatically turns off the engine when the car moves at less than 8 km/h and the driver applies the brakes. The engine turns on again as soon as the driver takes his or her foot off the brake pedal. The start/stop function reduces standard consumption by about 0.4 liters - from 4.7 liters per 100 kilometers to around 4.3 liters per 100 kilometers. CO2 emissions meanwhile are reduced from an average of 112 grams to approx. 103 grams per kilometer.