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Smart will go EV-only in 2019

Smart CEO confirms brand will stop building combustion-engined cars in 2019

Three years from now, Smart will stop building cars with combustion engines. Starting in Europe and North America at the end of 2019, the Fortwo and Forfour will be sold only with full-electric drive. Asia and the rest of the world will follow ‘as soon as possible after’.

This would be the first time any brand has fully transitioned from combustion to electric drive.

Because they’re urban, the electric Smarts won’t have big range. At the moment the Fortwo electric has a real-world range of about 70 miles and the Forfour a couple of miles less.

Smart CEO Annette Winkler says this isn’t a problem. “Price is more important than range for our buyers. If we put in a bigger-capacity battery the price goes up. What matters is there will be supermarkets and car parks where you can charge up quickly.”

But isn’t it sales suicide to just stop building petrol cars? “We have prepared the factory and the dealers to be flexible,” she says, in a diplomatic admission that the result might be a big drop. But she doesn’t make a prediction. She goes on to compare the arrival of big electric-car sales to pouring ketchup. “You know it will come. It’s just a question of when, and of how fast.”

To be fair on Smart, this brand has been good at pushing new ideas, albeit often far too soon. The Smart was the first car to be designed especially for cities. The first to offer big customisation in a cheap car. One of the first to integrate personal devices onto the dash. And, in the gen-1 Smart EV in 2009, the very first EV in many European markets.

 

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