Smart to stop sales of gasoline-powered models, focus on electric cars in US

Article by Christian A., on February 16, 2017

If you have a penchant for the gasoline version of Smart’s ForTwo small coupe and small convertible, better arrange your finances and get a unit before September 2017. That’s because Smart will soon discontinue sales of its conventionally powered small vehicles in North America, including the United States and Canada, according to reports from Automotive News and German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

This development came after Smart dealers in the US and Canada received a game-changing letter from Mercedes-Benz USA chief executive Dietmar Exler. In the letter, Exler noted that Smart’s current product portfolio is facing some challenges brought by developments within the micro-car segment. He then said that as Smart launches the fourth generation of the Smart ForTwo electric drive in the summer, the brand’s product lineup in the US and Canada will include only zero-emissions Smart electric-drive coupe and cabriolet.

Exler’s statement effectively meant the imminent discontinuation of its conventionally powered products. More specifically, Smart will discontinue the production and sales of gasoline-powered offerings after the 2017 model year – only in the US and Canada. Smart will still offer gasoline-powered small cars in other markets.

Citing Mercedes spokesman Rob Moran, Automotive News reported that Smart will halt production of the gasoline-powered Smart ForTwo coupe and convertible for North America in April 2017. Moran added that sales of the conventionally powered Smart ForTwo coupe and convertible will continue until Smart has emptied its inventory lots. Smart has been selling its redesigned gasoline-powered ForTwo coupe since late 2015, and its redesigned ForTwo convertible since 2016.

Smart is due to introduce its 2018 model year small vehicles in September 2017.

As Exler has indicated, the decision to stop production and sales of its conventionally powered Smart ForTwo coupe and convertible came as driving customers in the US and Canada are increasingly attracted to crossovers and SUVs. One particular driver of this growing demand is the lower price of gasoline, which meant that customers won’t even care so much about fuel economy and about fuel-efficient small vehicles. Thus, the increasing demand for crossovers and SUVs in North America meant that less people are going for other vehicle types like micro-cars.

Smart’s sales peak was reached in 2014 when it sold 10,453 micro vehicles. Of these, 2,594 were electric drive units. However, sales have been falling for the brand since then. In 2016, Smart only sold 6,211 small vehicles in the US, of which only 657 examples were electric drive units. Now, with its gasoline-powered Smart ForTwo coupe and convertible soon out of production and sales in North America, the brand could focus its efforts in marketing and selling its electric drive units and turn around its declining status.

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