Small & Mighty? The Story Of The Smart Car
Believe it or not but Smart has been around for 25 years now. It’s the unmistakable small car that is a common sight on our roads but what is the Smart story and what does the future hold for this funky car manufacturer?
The story around Smart is an interesting one and the origins of the car manufacturer can be traced back to the 1980s. In 1982 Swatch CEO Nicolas Hayek, initially conceived the idea of a small city car that was designed to the same standard and philosophies to that of his own companies product, watches.
Hayek believed that car manufacturers around the world were missing out on a market segment where owners were looking for a high quality and capable city car. This is a demographic that wasn’t particularly served well during this period of time and if done correctly he believed, a car in this market could become a strong seller.
One of the key moments of getting the project off the ground in the 1990s was finding support. Believing that other car makers would view the new vehicle as a direct competitor, and therefore spark a sales war that could stump out Smart before they’d even got started, Hayek looked for manufacturer support. A bold move in itself and if successful development costs could be greatly offset by an industry leader. Making his pitch the Smart CEO managed to garner Volkswagen support before the deal was cancelled abruptly by Ferdinand Piëch, the then-new CEO of VW. Not looking to be left at the wayside it wasn’t long before Smart had teamed up with Mercedes Benz.
At its core, the Smart product portfolio has featured three cars predominantly over its history. These are what we know today as the For Two, For Four and the now out of production Roadster.
The core design philosophy of the Smart car was compact efficiency. A car designed to be at home on the city streets, the Smarts chassis saw it’s wheels placed literally at all four corners of the car. On this sat a compact range of power trains and around it was built a body that was quirky by design. Dual coloured body panels were configurable whilst a range of funky interior options set these cars out from the crowd.
As other manufacturers started to bring out city cars of their own, Smart launched the For Four model. Taking the key design philosophies of the For Two, the For Four brought added comfort and capacity to the Smart range for the first time.
Along the way, the short-lived Roadster model added a touch of sporting appeal before it ceased production for good in 2005. In addition to the hardtop models, Smart has also produced a range of topless variants in the guise of Cabrios.
There’s no denying that Smart is an unmistakable machine. As a variety of external factors affect the motor industry, naturally the focus is turning to electric vehicles and Smart is no exception. With an all-electric model already here, the rest of the Smart range will no doubt follow suit over the coming years.
At Big Motoring World whether your car needs are big or small, at our Kent dealerships you are bound to discover the right car for you. At current we also have a fantastic selection of Smart cars and these are available to view at our West Malling location. To discover more please head over to the Big Motoring World group website.