Care to guess how bad the situation is? Let’s take sales for reference. Over in the United States, smart struggled to sell 1,276 cars in 2018. Things aren’t rosy in Europe either, totaling 97,346 cars. The question is, how come things got to this point?
Bad management comes to mind, and there’s also the matter of pricing. Even though this generation of the fortwo and forfour was co-developed with Renault, both models are pricier than ever. The range starts at 11,165 euros for internal combustion and 21,940 euros for the EQ, and that’s too much in comparison to the competition.
Take Kia as an example with the Rio, priced at €11,950 in Germany but better equipped, nicer to drive than the smart, and covered for seven years or 150,000 kilometers, whichever comes first. The fortwo EQ has nothing on the Renault ZOE, which starts at €21,900 for the 22-kWh battery option and the R90 electric motor.
The coolness of smart has also disappeared, even among the target audience of the brand. Looking at the bigger picture, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if Daimler AG decides to pull the plug on this business to focus on the Mercedes-Benz U-Class.
The Financial Times thinks otherwise, though. Citing three sources, the business newspaper claims that Daimler AG will sell 50 percent of smart to Geely, the mothership that controls Volvo, Polestar, Lotus, and London Electric Vehicle Company. An announcement is expected before the Auto Shanghai 2019, which opens its doors to the press on April 16th.
Given that smart is losing in the ballpark of €700 million per year, will Geely be able to bring the brand back to profit? Only time will tell.