Daimler’s popular Smart brand will be moving away from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the US and Canada in the coming years — completely — and fully embracing all-electric vehicles instead.
To be more specific, the company is now planning to cease the sale of Smart-branded cars with gasoline engines in the US and Canada by the time that the 2017 model reaches the end of its sales life (this autumn). All sales in those two countries thereafter will all-electric Smart cars only.
As we reported in an exclusive analysis recently, Smart was actually the #1 brand in the US for percentage of its car sales being electric cars — 8.4%. That was compared to an electric car (including plug-in hybrid) share of 6.4% at BMW Cars, 5.9% at Ford Cars, 5.5% at BMW Brand (which includes larger vehicles like SUVs), Porsche at 4.8%, Audi Cars at 4.7%, and Chevrolet Cars at 4.6%.
The all-electric news originates with comments made by the head of Mercedes-Benz USA, Dietmar Exler, in a letter sent to dealerships in the two countries, which Reuters got a hold of. That news organization claims that the news is just the latest sign of “struggles for small cars in the United States.”
Exler’s comments read: “Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio. A dedicated focus on the electric drive in the US and Canada provides a logical step to support a sustainable, zero emissions future.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung first covered the news, and it was that article first sent our way by a reader. A Google translation from there portrays one Exler comment as, “The electric drive is of central importance for our long-term drive strategy in North America, and the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive will play an important role.”
The news shouldn’t be too surprising for those reading this, as the Smart brand (and super compacts in general) have always faced an uphill battle in the US, and the all-electric version better fulfills the market that is there (urban people wanting to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and/or fuel costs).
The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is one of the electric models that still has a relatively small driving range — 68 miles (109 kilometers). Presumably, a coming version will have much more range, as will an electric Smart Forfour — which may or may not be coming to the US, a matter we haven’t seen confirmation of yet.