Get Smart: Daimler Could Decide To Kill Its Microcar Brand This Year

Smart is looking like an increasingly dumb decision for Daimler and it appears the company could be ready to pull the plug.

Handelsblatt is reporting Smart has never been profitable and it’s about to lose its biggest fan, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, who is retiring in May.  He’ll be replaced by Ola Källenius who is said to have “no scruples about killing the brand if necessary.”

The publication goes on to say Källenius is under pressure to cut costs and Smart is a prime target due to its continued loses. A decision on Smart’s future will reportedly be made later this year.

There’s no word on which way the company is leaning, but Smart boss Katrin Adt reportedly has big plans for the brand. There’s no word on specifics, but the executive is said to want a new and expanded product lineup to boost sales.

Smart sales have plummeted in the United States and the company only sold 1,276 units last year. The dramatic drop is being blamed on the company’s decision to only sell electric vehicles, but Smart sales have been dropping continuously since 2015.

The picture is better in Europe where Smart sold 97,346 vehicles in 2018. However, Handelsblatt notes the company has never been able to achieve its original sales target of 200,000 units globally.

While Smart’s future looks bleak, that might not necessarily be the case. The publication suggests Daimler has been talking to BAIC and Geely about a potential partnership. If the company could strike a deal with another automaker, it could help to justify Smart’s continued existence.

Auto News Europe says Evercore ISI believes Smart loses between $565 – $792 (£428 – £600 / €500 – €700) million annually. The firm has also previously told investors “We can’t see how a German microcar business can generate a profit, costs are simply too high.”

  • Kagan

    Kill it!

    Never understood why to start with!

    Brands like Mercedes should never use other names!

    • Matt

      Why are you so negative all the time? Learn the history of Smart and then see why it wasn’t called Mercedes.

  • MarketAndChurch

    Mercedes never gave them a chance in the first place, their sole existence was to temporarily help Daimler offset its emission/mpg taxes.

  • StrangerGP

    I don’t get it why people still buy Smart cars. The 2 passenger version isn’t practical, the 4 door version looks ugly and you can buy a Renault Twingo sister model for much less. I can agree this is a good base for a small electric model, but that’s it.

    • Vassilis

      For busy city centres it’s an excellent car. The best out there actually.

    • S3XY

      My 2 passenger Electric Smart is extremely practical. It’s a real life go kart, burns zero gas, has the most unique and mine has the coolest look, head turner, sparks conversation, and costs me $2.50 for 70 miles of electric range.

      I drive it 99% of the time by myself and it has tons of storage inside that I never use.

      It’s my commuter car and I love it, as all Smart owners do. The gas version sucks though. That was my very first car. I liked it but the electric version is 100000000x better.

  • F.F.Sake

    “Daimler Could Decide To Kill Its Microcar Brand This Year”

    Please DO…! I’ve been saying this for years.
    You want to sell a pint-sized car – then charge a pint-sized price!

  • MarketAndChurch

    I couldn’t agree more, especially on the ForStars. I wish they would build at least one concept-looking car with great performance and tech, and charging a premium for it, it can be their flagship halo model. I love the Smart ForTwo but they really need a larger premium small car that is bigger than the ForFour.

    • Mike anonymous

      Absolutely 👍. A halo model would do wonders for the company. Reinvigorating a brand that most people haven’t really spoken much about since they redesigned the line (in I think 2014/2015).

      I couldn’t agree more. (just realized you said that already. I suppose…) Great minds think alike.

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