Smart Ditches Gas-Powered Models in Favor of EVs in the U.S.
Electric coupe and cabrio will remain in the lineup
Smart will no longer offer gasoline-powered cars in the U.S. after the 2017 model year, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed. The pint-sized cars will only be available in EV form.
The company didn't issue a formal press announcement, but dealers were informed of the decision Monday, Mercedes-Benz told Automobile. In a letter to dealers, Mercedes said, "Developments within the microcar segment present some challenges for the current Smart product portfolio. Therefore, with the launch of the fourth-generation Smart Fortwo electric drive this summer, the Smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero emissions Smart electric-drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada."
Smart began selling the Fortwo in the U.S. for the 2008 model year before introducing an electric model for 2011. The company is a low-volume player in the U.S. where it sold just 6,211 vehicles last year.
Despite its small size, the gas-powered Fortwo doesn't impress in fuel economy. It tops out at a respectable 33/39/35 city/highway/combined, but cars such as the Honda Civic can do better while offering more space.
Mercedes seems confident that the decision fits the company's goals for the future. "Electric is central to our long-term powertrain strategy in the U.S., and the Smart Fortwo electric drive will play an important role in carrying this forward," the letter said.
After this year, Smart drivers will still be able to service their gas-powered Fortwos at authorized dealers. Smart currently has 85 dealers in the U.S., and Mercedes admits it's unclear if that number will decrease now that the gas cars have been cut from the lineup, Automotive News reports.