The Smart minicar brand believes that China could surpass Germany and Italy as the largest market for its vehicles, according to Smart chief executive Annette Winkler. She remarked to Reuters that at the start, there were doubts that Smart could become successful in China since typically, the country’s premium market is about big cars.
However, in some months of 2014, China proved to be one of the top global markets for Smart as sales of premium compact models starts to pick up. Smart has been in China for five years and posted sales of around 17,500 cars in the country in 2013.
Daniel Lescow, the brand’s chief for China, told Reuters that Smart is expected to post a slight growth this year to record sales, no thanks partly to model changes. However, Lescow expects the volume to grow further after the brand rolls out new Smart two-seater and Smart four-seater in China.
He said that Smart, a unit of German carmaker Daimler, will log a double-digit growth in 2016, as more young Chinese people are becoming rich enough to purchase a Smart car. On the other hand, Daimler is planning to launch its car2go car-sharing service to China.
As of end of last year, car2go’s fleet of over 10,000 Smart ForTwo cars was running in around 25 cities in Europe and North America. According to Lescow, Daimler is holding discussion Chinese city governments about car2go and is evaluating the business model in the country.