Smart Car to vanish from North American showrooms over ‘declining’ market
The Smart Car will disappear from North American showrooms later this year.
“After much careful consideration, Smart will discontinue its battery electric Smart Fortwo model in the U.S. and Canadian markets at the conclusion of model year 2019,” manufacturer Daimler said in a statement to Global News Tuesday.
The company cited a number of factors in its decision, including a “declining micro-car market in the U.S and Canada,” the spokesperson wrote.
Introduced to Canada in 2004 at a time when consumers were concerned about rising fuel prices, the tiny car caught the imagination of auto shoppers at the Toronto auto show.
“It’s just a very practical thing,” one attendee told Global News.
“I love this little car,” said another, who had taken the vehicle on a test drive.
“I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.”
WATCH: Driver speaks out after sunroof shatters (April 8)
Initially, the Smart Car was sold as a diesel model. Then, to coincide with its entry to the U.S. market, Daimler switched to a gasoline engine.
Finally, in 2017, the Smart Car was sold as an all-electric vehicle.
The switch didn’t pay off from a sales perspective. In 2018, the company sold only 345 units in Canada.
“When you look at consumers who actually have a choice on what to buy, these numbers are tiny, tiny, tiny and it can’t be supported in a country the size of Canada,” said Dennis Desrosiers, a leading automotive analyst in Markham, Ont.
Desrosiers says it would “take a doubling or tripling of gas prices” in order to stir growth in vehicles like the Smart Car, which were sold as fuel-efficient solutions to consumers, especially ones living in cities where long commutes were not required. (The current vehicle has a range of about 100 kilometres).
“They want big and powerful vehicles,” said Desrosiers, describing the profile of typical Canadian consumers shopping for a car or truck.
Daimler has committed to support owners of Smart Cars, despite the decision to discontinue new sales.
“Mercedes-Benz Canada will continue to provide owners of gasoline-powered and electric…models with access to service and replacement parts via Smart and authorized Mercedes-Benz dealers,” the company said.
Watch below: a Smart snowplow (Feb. 18, 2019)