... recently I invited people to celebrate my now 10-year-old smart fortwo electric drive and when the first guests plugged in their car to my charging station, the problem became once again very clear:
The smart fortwo is a second car
It was intended as a second car and that's what it should be. That's what makes the fortwo so unrivaled. That's why people love it and that's why they buy it. Especially with an electric motor, it is the perfect as a second car. Finds a parking space everywhere, it is easy to park, is very manoeuvrable in city traffic and extremely cheap to maintain.
But a second car is both a curse and a blessing:
The smart fortwo has been attracting people to electromobility for a good 10 years now. Shows how much fun electric cars are and how cheaply you can get from A to B with them and that many prejudices against electromobility are groundless. We ourselves were hooked on the fortwo electric drive 11 years ago and we really like EVs because of it. The next logical step is then to replace the first car with an electric car. And since smart didn't have anything to offer here before the #1, people then went to other brands. For us it was a Zoe and then a Model 3. It's similar for many others.
The smart #1 does not claim to replace the fortwo
Of course, the #1 is not a smart fortwo, it should never be and it will never be one. The smart #1 is a car in its own right and the first smart car that can be used as main car. It therefor has two main advantages for smart:
- It offers fortwo customers a first car and thus manages to further bind customers to the brand
- With a first car, you are immediately in a different price range and this also allows smart to earn money, since the customers allow reasonable margins here
For the last 25 years, smart has been a very cool manufacturer of iconic cars and is known for its microcars. However, smart was not able to make any money with this small car. No manufacturer makes money with its small cars. That's what the big cars are for, and that's how it will be at smart now as well.
If smart hadn't canceled the smart formore in the mid-2000s and handed it over to Mercedes as the ML, smart could have been making money for a good 15 years already. Now smart is finally correcting this strategic mistake.
Of course, it breaks with smart's old philosophy of only building second cars. But it also breaks with what smart had previously failed to do financially. And it breaks with the fact that although smart is a pioneer of electromobility, it cannot translate this into a loyal customer base. Unlike Tesla, for example. That's exactly why the smart #1 is here, the smart #3 is in the pipeline and other models are already in the works behind closed doors.
The vehicles that will be presented and sold by 2025 will not replace the fortwo. Nor is that their claim. They create a basis on which smart can be a normal car brand. With a choice of models, first and second cars and in which smart as a manufacturer can cover all the needs of its customers. In this way, smart no longer loses customers whom it was able to win for electromobility and then lose to the competition.
The fortwo is coming, but not immediately
Now smart first has to earn money, build up a model range and restructure itself. For example, developing things like their own operating system and establishing services like their charging card. With that as a basis, they can then build a fortwo again, which will also rightly carries the name "smart" for the purists. It takes time and a strategy that requires perseverance. But there is no other way.
But for its arrival, the model range has to be prepared in such a way that it doesn't send people who want to also get an electric first car directly to the competition again.
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