A 2014 Mercedes Benz Smart Fortwo Car at the Valencia Automovil 2014 Car Show. Photo: Rob Wilson / Shutterstock.
Inexpensive to buy, cheap to run, cute as a bug’s ear and able to be parked in the width of two bicycle stalls. That was the vision when Mercedes-Benz first introduced the Smart Car. At 8’8” long, the two-seat, Smart Car was unlike anything Americans had seen when it came to the U.S. market in 2008. Built in France, it was based on a 1998 design that has changed little in looks over the years. It was going to revolutionize the new-car market.
Nine years later, according to MSN Money, the gas-powered version of the SC is coming to the end of its run. It was the victim of being good, but not great, at what it aspired to be.
It got 40 miles to the gallon. That’s good! But, given its small stature and 70-horsepower engine, EPA numbers like 50, 60, or 70 were thought to be possible. They were not to be. USA Today says the cars lack of aerodynamic properties made such exalted fuel economy numbers unreasonable to attain.
Sales numbers, initially promising with 30,000 reservations ahead of the car’s launch, went steadily downhill. Last year, Mercedes sold only 6,211 Smart Cars. That was down 17% from the previous year. Eventually, Mercedes funneled most of its inventory to the car-sharing service Cars2Go. When Cars2Go announced this year that they were stepping away from the Smart Car, the end became self-evident.
While the gas-fueled Smart may be on the way out, the electric version is expected to continue. Mercedes announced that the electric Smart will be a focus for the future as the carmaker moves inexorably toward a more fuel efficient fleet.
The 2017 gas-powered Smart Car has an MSRP beginning at $14,100. The 2017 electric Smart Car has an MSRP of $25,000.
MSN Money, USA Today, carbuzz.com
Gildshire Reporter, Kim Hastings