"The car is occupied by an average of 1.4 people every day. We have generously equipped the Smart with 2 seats". It was more than 20 years ago that smart revolutionized mobility with a new concept.
The term hipster wasn't invented at the end of the 90s, but if it had been, the smart fortwo would have become the hipster's car. Just like the VW Bulli became the car of the hippies. Smart was known for their fresh sayings and their small car. The company presented itself confidently with the motto "reduce to the max" and was truly convinced that they would revolutionize the cityscape with a new vehicle class. The microcar was born.
Unfortunately, 20 years later we have to realize that even now the customers aren't ready to drive a small car. In the city, SUV-like vehicles have spread and anyone who wants to drive a small 2-seater has to have a lot of self confidence. For a small car, you need a strong character.
Smart has to re-introduce itself to the customer
This paragraph is also clearly intended for my readers from smart themself. Even in my close circle of friends I have recently been asked "What is smart doing now? Weren't they sold?" more and more frequently. Also from friends who are very enthusiastic with the brand themselves. With the sale of the plant in Hambach, there are also some who are convinced that my 2021 smartEQfortwo must have been built in 2020 and was now on stockpile in Hambach until I bought it.
The press releases were carefully worded and, for example, when the joint venture between Daimler and Geely was announced, the word "sold" was never chosen. Nevertheless, it is on everyone's lips and many still do not understand what kind of business form smart now has, and to whom the brand now "belongs". In the meantime, quite a few people have heard of the SUV, but the only thing that stuck with many of them at the moment is that it will be built in China. Then there are statements like "I won't buy the Chinese car", even going with just the presentation of the near-series study at the 2021IAA in Munich. Although you can see almost exclusively the design of Daimler, Chinese work was not to be seen yet. Just a modern display in the middle of the vehicle. I think it is also important to communicate here that vehicles from Asia have got a better workmanship than most vehicles from the USA.
Smart rebuilds and reinvents itself completely
"We know. It’s different. What happened? The future happened. A lot of jaws were dropped when we launched 20 years ago bringing a radically sensible, new way of living in the city to create a smarter future. Our mission hasn’t changed. The times have.", smart.
Changing times require different cars, engines and a completely new company. And we can see that from the outside as well: Daimler is cooperating with a Chinese company, has sold the formerly revolutionary plant in France and will now also build SUVs.
Yes, it's changing a lot and it looks really weird what they're doing. And it doesn't help that years ago the news spread, they have now terminated all contracts with the dealers and a few weeks ago it spread that that the contracts with Brabus would expire at the end of the year. "smart is dead!", voices like this are getting louder and louder.
Indeed. Smart as we knew it no longer exists, at least from a legal point of view. The Daimler subsidiary was dissolved, but smart is far from being dead. The opposite is happening, smart is reinventing themself: smart is already building fully electric vehicles since 2020, making it the first conventional manufacturer to take this step. Too radical for many, but not radical enough for smart. With a new strong partner, they have been building a completely new company since the end of 2019, cutting off a lot of old braids and putting everything on one card. There is a new company, new 100 % subsidiaries and no stone is left unturned. For this reason, we also receive messages that have been taken out of context, such as the dissolved contracts between Brabus and Mercedes, as well as about the dealers and the sold plant.
Of course, when you make a new company, you need to dissolve old contacts and make new ones.
A new management team is being building in the background and this too has a completely new structure. For example, every European country gets its own company with its own boss, so they can concentrate much better on the individual wishes of the individual countries. They then work together with smart Europa GmbH. Effectively the European umbrella organization for everything that smart does on our continent. And here we still see old hands. Many of us miss Dr. Annette Winkler and the sheer endless energy she put into the brand in her time.
This energy is missing, but the passion and understanding for the origin of the brand is still in the smart Europe GmbH. Many of her former colleagues are still involved and full of energy. And on the part of the cooperation partner, I clearly see a lot of very motivated, new ones. From a new world, with new innovative ideas. All in all, it's such a happy mix of different people, ideas and mindsets, just like it was in the 90s when the MCC (later known as the smart fortwo) was launched.
It is a time of reconstruction and construction, a chaotic time, in which they have to consciously turn every stone and develop new processes. They effectively break away from the old and big Mercedes, where all processes go far too slow. Smart comes back to its old freshness, as we know it from the 90s, but new and yet somehow different. More modern, much more modern.
The community has to stick together now and for the next 1-2 years and support their brand. You get to know true friends in times of crisis, not when everything is going well. What's coming is worth it, even if it doesn't necessarily look like that for everyone and if the community will unfortunately lose members anyway.
In this sense.