Smart’s future was recently secured thanks to a new joint venture with Geely. That’s good news, but the picture isn’t entirely rosy as the brand might withdraw from the United States.
Nothing is official as of yet, but Motor Trend talked to Daimler board member Britta Seeger who said “We’re deciding how to proceed with Smart in the U.S.” Seeger stated talks are continuing, but a decision should come before summer.
Smart arrived in the United States in 2008 and was initially successful as they sold 24,622 units. However, sales quickly plummeted and were down to just 5,927 units two years later.
Sales recovered a bit in following years, but their most recent peak was 10,453 units in 2014. Since then, it’s been a downward spiral and just 1,276 units were sold last year. 2019 is looking even worse as Carsalesbase data shows U.S. dealers have only sold 231 units through the first three months of the year.
The minuscule numbers probably make it hard to justify Smart’s continued existence in the United States, but the joint venture could complicate the decision. Under the terms of the deal, a new-generation of Smart electric vehicles will be built in China and go on sale in 2022. The models will be sold globally and that could suggest the brand still wants a presence in the United States. If that’s the case, Smart USA might have to struggle for the next few years until new products arrive.
Regardless of what happens, the next-generation of Smart vehicles will be styled by Mercedes and engineered by Geely. The companies haven’t said much else about their plans, but they did confirm their intention to expand the Smart lineup to include a model in the B-segment.