Chicago 2011: With two new models coming, "There is a future for Smart"

2011 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive – Click above for high-res image gallery

Smart has delivered its first ForTwo Electric Drive and the 2011 ForTwo is equipped with a suite of first-time features such as cruise control, navigation and eight airbags. But no matter the advances heaped upon the brand's sole ambasador now, the question many have is: does it have a future?

"There is a commitment to the Smart brand by Smart USA and Daimler's also committed," Rick Bourgoise, Smart's Director of Communications, tells Autoblog. "There are two paths to product expansion: the Daimler alliance with Nissan-Renault to provide a small car platform as part of the next Smart ForTwo as well as a four-seat model to arrive mid-decade." That car could be, or at least have something to do with, the scale model four-door ForTwo+2 spied recently in Europe. That car is being engineered by Mercedes-Benz and built by Daimler.

"That was good in the near term," said Bourgoise, "but we needed additional product in the short term." When he says "we," he's referring to Smart USA, which is Penske's distributorship operation that has the U.S. and Puerto Rico territories for Smart.

"Smart USA agreed with Nissan of the Americas to get a five-door, five-seat hatch that will arrive sometime in Q4 of 2011." That car refers to the Memorandum of Understanding that Smart signed with Nissan for a B-segment entrant last October. That means the car has officially been given the go-ahead. The platform is assumed to be that of the Micra, since it's "a global vehicle for Nissan that's not selling" here, and they're putting it together in one year. The design of that car is a collaboration between Smart and Nissan, but "it will be a Smart, will have Smart styling cues and stay true to those brand attributes," such as a tiny footprint and high efficiency and recyclability. Burgoise also confirmed "it will come in a standard manual and automatic transmissions." Bourgoise tells AB the unnamed car will be revealed sometime in late Q1 or Q2.

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