Daimler’s announcement comes after the smart brand became all-electric in North America last year
Daimler’s CEO announced plans for its smart car brand to become all-electric in Europe at the company’s annual meeting in Germany last week. Dieter Zietsche confirmed that smart will no longer sell petrol-powered smart cars by 2020.
The smart brand has already become an EV-only range in the US, however the move shows the company’s commitment to an all-electric future in a much larger market.
In sales terms, the smart car has been vastly more popular with consumers in Europe than the US – understandable when one considers the dense, urban populations across the former continent and US consumer trends which show a hesitation when it comes to compact models.
The transition to all-electric vehicles was met with resistance in North America last year, from dealers in particular. Many cited the price difference between the EV and ICE-powered versions as the reason for this, with the 2017 smart fortwo electric drive starting at US$23,800 before incentives – whereas its ICE counterpart could be picked up for just US$15,000.
The transition cost Daimler 58 out of the 85 dealerships in the US who were carrying the brand. Unsurprisingly, dealerships within New York and California, both of which continue to support uptake through tax incentives for EV buyers, were among those supportive of the move who continue to sell the sub-brand.
Smart move for Europe
Zetsche expects the changeover to be a much smoother transition within the European market. Alongside this announcement, he also reiterated the automaker’s plans for electrification of future models:
“Mercedes-Benz will offer at least one electrified version in each segment by 2022. smart is already completely electric in North America and the changeover will take place in Europe by 2020. At the same time, we are electrifying our vans, trucks and buses. And we have many more plans – also going beyond our products.”
Despite the slump in its North American business since the transition, Daimler’s firm commitment to full electrification for the smart brand bodes well. It may even force the hand of long-time smart drivers to make the switch to electric – a gamble that will hopefully pay off for Daimler and its customers as more and more cities look to encourage zero-carbon vehicles.