Daimler is preparing to launch the first mass-produced electric auto ever from a German manufacturer and hopes that with this move, it will be able to regain its reputation as the urban mobility pioneer. When the Smart car was presented in 1998 by Daimler AG, it had a vision to offer a smog-reducing electric version to strengthen the image of the brand as a leader in the urban transport segment. However, Smart was left behind by other city cars in terms of innovation. BMW AG's Mini was able to release different variants that range from a roadster to a four-door crossover, considered as a stepping stone to its parent BMW brand. On the other hand, Smart has just a single model and it hasn’t done much in helping out Daimler's Mercedes-Benz, which wasn’t able to catch up to Audi in sales for the first time in 2011.
Deliveries will begin in the next few weeks in several markets, which include the U.S. Peter de Haan, an auto markets analyst at consulting firm Ernst Basler + Partner in Zollikon, Switzerland, said that Daimler will have to catch up. He added that the e-Smart is relevant to the entire company as a symbol. Smart brand chief Annette Winkler said that on average,
Smart owners travel less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) daily – which falls within the 145 km range of the electric version per charge. This means that the emission-free model is matched well for its diminutive size. In a written response to queries, Winkler said that from the start, Smart was intended to be an electric vehicle. He wrote that the car is suited to the electric drive so it’s “now paying off.” He added that the battery-powered model is included in Smart’s plan to expand further. Within the next few years, the range will have an electric-powered bicycle, an e-scooter and a four-seat car, comparable to a model presented in the past decade and taken off the market a couple of years after.