Smart Ditches Gas Models, Moves to EVs Only in US and Canada

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If you’re looking to get behind the wheel of a gasoline-powered Smart car, then you’d better act fast. The company announced it is discontinuing all gasoline-powered Smart cars in the US and Canada after the 2017 model year.

The Smart brand isn’t disappearing completely, but rather morphing into solely an electric vehicle company. Mercedes-Benz says it’s all a part of their corporate focus on electric cars.

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Low gas prices and high demand for SUVs and crossovers have hurt Smart sales. The two-seater had strong initial interest with 30,000 reservations ahead of its launch, but interest in the Smart ForTwo quickly waned.

Mercedes moved some of its Smart cars toward its Car2go ride sharing service, but that avenue is now closed. Car2go is switching to the Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan and GLA crossover leaving Smart out of the equation.

Intended to be the perfect car for city-dwellers, Smart was introduced in the US in 2008 at a time when gas prices were hitting record highs. A small, fuel-efficient car was on everyone’s mind. Smart sales reached their peak with 10,543 units in 2014. Last year, however, it sold only 6,211 units, which is a 17 percent decline from the year prior.

A redesigned Smart ForTwo coupe went on sale in late 2015. This was followed by a redesigned Smart ForTwo cabrio last summer, but that wasn’t enough to boost interest in the Smart brand.

The fourth generation of the Smart ForTwo electric is due to arrive this summer and will mark the official move to electric-only vehicles. The car will be available as both a coupe and cabrio in the US and in Canada.

As for the remaining gasoline Smart cars, production will cease in North America this April. Smart will continue to sell its inventory until all those units are gone.

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Underlining the problem is current dealer stock. The 2017 coupe went on sale back in early December, but there are still 2016 models sitting in inventory. A current lease promotion is offering 2016 coupes for only $89 per month.

Electric vehicles accounted for a large chunk of the brand’s sales at their peak with roughly 30 percent of Smarts sold powered by electric motors. Expected sales volumes as an electric-only brand have not been released.

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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin