In 2019 Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) sold 50% of its Smart brand to the Chinese giant Geely, owner of Volvo, Polestar, and Lotus. Earlier this year, both companies relaunched Smart as a manufacturer of electric vehicles managed through a global joint-venture. Smart Automobile will start launching its new generation models in 2022.
Daimler will take care of the aesthetics of Smart vehicles, while Geely will take care of the entire technical section. The cars will be produced in China for the whole world, something that possibly increases their profitability, until now always questioned by their high development and manufacturing costs. It is expected that the new generation Smart will have an electrical technology derived from that used by Volvo.
Although Smart will maintain its current presence in segment A with the EQ ForTwo and EQ ForFour, in recent months, numerous rumors have indicated that the brand will expand to segment B with a utility called EQ ForFive. The objective is to offer small, electric, and premium cars, rivaling proposals such as those of MINI, belonging to BMW.
In fact, in 2019, Mercedes-Benz chief designer Gorden Wagener announced his intention for the next Smart to be inspired by the design of the 2001 MINI Hatch. “The key point is that sensuality sells, and in that sense, I look for inspiration in that first MINI. There were simplicity and voluptuousness that gave them a unique appeal, and the challenge is to get those kinds of shapes without growing the car too much or making it look too bulky. We are now with Geely at the beginning of the process, but we know which way we want to go. Smart has grown as a brand, it is no longer a child, and it can be sexier, have a more sporty style.”
However, numerous sources now point out that in reality, Smart will not launch a hatchback, but an electric B-SUV. A model that would give the brand the necessary volume to be profitable. This vehicle is probably a derivative of the future Volvo XC20 Recharge, the expected urban SUV of the Swedish brand. In any case, it has yet to be officially confirmed whether Smart will launch an electric utility, an electric B-SUV, or both.
In a recent interview, Mercedes-Benz head of research and development, Markus Schafer stated: “By working with Geely, we have access to greater synergies, knowledge of Geely and close cooperation with Volvo […] we have the genes of the [Smart] brand, and with new engineering and design, we are off to a good start. In terms of product, I would say, ‘stay tuned.”