The Daimler brain trust of Dieter Zetsche and Thomas Weber has reportedly struck a deal with Renault/Nissan to develop its next generation of minicars due out in 2014 or so. As you would expect, Daimler will get a new Smart Fortwo out of the deal while the Franco-Japanese conglomerate will use the design for unknown future models that could bear both the Nissan and Renault nameplates.
According to Automobile Magazine, Daimler insisted on retaining the Smart brand's trademark rear-engine and rear-wheel drive configuration, which was somewhat understandably met with some trepidation by Renault. Also held over will likely be the steel safety cage design with interchangeable plastic body panels so the resulting vehicles will be safe and easily distinguishable from each other.
Not surprisingly, electric powertrains will be part of the mix, along with a newly developed 1.0-liter direct injected three-cylinder engine and a duo of 1.3- and 1.5-liter fours. The modular chassis may also be lengthened in order to spawn a new four-seat Fourfour and a taller Formore micro-minivan with sliding doors.
[Source: Automobile Magazine]