A look at the Smart motor company and its key models.
The Smart brand was created in the late 1980s by the CEO of Swatch, Nicolas Hayek. The company started out with the aim of creating a stylish and compact city car that was affordable to the average consumer. Hayek wanted to bring the levels of customisation and consumer freedom that Swatch offered customers to the motoring industry.
However, he didn’t have enough knowledge of car manufacturing techniques so set about forming a business relationship with companies within the auto industry. After a series of failed deals with companies such as Volkswagen, BMW and Fiat an agreement was finally reached Daimler-Benz in 1994.
‘Smartville’ the first Smart factory, was opened during 1994 in Hambach, France and was followed by another opening in late 1997. The first model, the Smart City Coupe, was released in October 1998 on the European market. The design was intended to be compact and reliable whilst remaining stylish at the same time. The model received instant critical acclaim and success on the commercial market. Throughout the late 90s and 00s the brand began to branch out into the global market – during this period Daimler-Benz also bought out Swatch’s remaining shares in the company. Smart then extended their range with the development of popular models such as the Smart Roadster, Smart Forfour sedan, and the Smart Roadster-Coupe between 2003 and 2004.
Currently Smart are working on vehicles to enter into the electric-hybrid market. The company released a ‘micro hybrid drive’ version of the Fortwo at the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show. An all electric version of the Fortwo has been in development since 2006. The Smart Fortwo vehicle makes use of a 30 kW drive motor and is powered entirely by a 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. If you use a standard 220V power outlet it will only take three and a half hours to charge the battery from 20 to 80 percent of its capacity on average.