smart fortwo production ended in Hambach

After more than 30 years, an era is ending

At the end of 2020, Mercedes announced that the smart factory in Hambach had been sold to INEOS. However, the new owner continued to produce the fortwo on behalf of smart until now. At the same time, he slowly ramped up production of his own model from mid-2022 on. The manufacturer based in Great Britain builds combustion engine power SUVs in the factory that look very similar to the Land Rover Defender. In doing so, he catapulted the factory, which has been only building electric cars since the end of 2019, back into the Stone Age.

smart BRABUS #1 & Ineos Grenadier

The decision was made back in 1994 that the swatch car would be built in Hambach, France. At that time, the fortwo was still widely discussed as Nicolas Hayek's car. He previously tried to build a car with VW according to the same rules as his successful watches. But it failed in the early 90s. At Mercedes, they have been seriously building their city car vehicle since the mid-80s, with Prof. Tomforde Feder leading the way. His 2-seater with a swapable battery was also planned to be electric.

Together the duo brought the fortwo onto the market, which is still unique today. To do this, Prof. Tomforde not only completely reinvented the car and the sales system, but also series production.

smart BRABUS #1 & Ineos Grenadier

What made the plant in Hambach special was that the suppliers built their production facilities right next door. This meant there were short distances from the supplier to the factory, and the fortwo could be built to order in a breathtaking amount of time. The system was also very cheap because Prof. Tomforde was able to convince the suppliers to pay for the construction of their factories on site themselves.

When the factory opened in 1997, there was of course a special watch from Swatch.

Die Geschichte des smart - Wie Prof. Johann Tomforde die smart-Marke aufbaut (feat. Nicolas Heyek)

Unfortunately, initially production was only with combustion engine powered cars. It started with petrol engines and shortly afterwards there were also diesel engines in the smart fortwo. At the beginning of the 2000s, the smart Roadster Coupe and the regular smart Roadster were also built in Hambach. But the fortwo cannot deny that it was planned to be electric. Today, every fortwo from the 90s and early 2000s still shows all of their symbols on the dash when they start, including the symbol for charging stations and gas station.

Die Geschichte des smart - Wie Prof. Johann Tomforde die smart-Marke aufbaut (feat. Nicolas Heyek)

Series production of fully electric cars since 2009

Even though the plant has to build ICE cars again this year, it also began producing fully electric cars on the fortwo production line very early on. In 2009 the second generation of the fortwo electric drive started, which emerged from the cooperation with Tesla and has a certain similarity to the Tesla Roadster from that time.

The first generation of the electric fortwo was built in 2006, but left the factory as a gasoline engine and was then officially converted into an electric drive. This was a test fleet of 100 vehicles in London. You can find detailed information about all generations of the electric fortwo here.

After the fortwo from the Tesla cooperation came the first fully electric fortwo, which was developed entirely by Mercedes themself. Visually it was hardly distinguishable from the previous generation, but technically it was a completely new and overhauled car. The first fortwo with fast charging capability came in the year 2012. Thanks to the 22 kW charger, the fortwo was charged from 10% back to 80% within 35 minutes.

One model series - two generations

The 3rd generation of the fortwo was built from 2012 to mid-2015. For the plant in Hambach, this also meant that the old and new fortwo generations were built at the same time for around a year. The fortwo electric drive was still based on the 451 series, while from 2014 the 453 series was built as a gasoline engine. With the 453 series, smart also said goodbye to the diesel engine in 2014.

After a short period in which no electric smart came off the production line in Hambach, the new generation of the fully electric fortwo was introduced in 2017. In the fourth generation, particular attention was paid to ensuring that the vehicles were no longer so astronomically expensive.

After the production of diesel vehicles ended in 2014, the production of gasoline powered cars ended in 2019. Since 2020, smart has no longer built combustion engines and is offering its entire model range as fully electric.

Previously, Mercedes was still philosophizing about making Hambach a Daimler location for electric vehiclesen. Commissioned the German project management and engineering company Drees & Sommer to tackle this. The idea at the time was to have the first generation of the Mercedes EQA and EQB manufactured there in another factory. But that never happened.

The smart fortwo and Hambach - what happens next?

The smart fortwo has now been built in three series in Hambach and the fortwo electric drive is now in its fourth generation. In total, the smart factory in Hambach has built just over 2.5 million fortwos, according to the most recently delivered chassis numbers. Over a period of 26 years, that's an average of <100,000 vehicles per year. In the last 12 months of the fortwo the factory build 15-20,000 units.

The fortwo has been neglected by Mercedes for several years now. Apart from an optical facelift in 2020, nothing has changed in its last 7 years. Even vehicles from 2024 are still the model year 2021.

Unfortunately, the fortwo no longer has a future in Hambach, smart no longer has any shares in the factory and production of the fortwo is increasingly getting in the way of the new owner. The brand itself has repositioned itself and is now building up its new product family. It started with the smart #1, followed by the #3 and in a few weeks the #5 will be presented. All of them are rather large cars, comparable to the smart formore study, a smart SUV from 2004.

Despite everything, smart isn't done with the fortwo. There will be be another one, it was officially teased again at smart times 2023 and according to my information they are still working on it. There's more about all of this in this article: New smart fortwo officially teased at the smart times

But it will probably be a few years before the new fortwo arrives. Until then, we have no choice but to look after our little fortwo. I still have my fortwo electric drive from 2013 and I look after it. <3 Without the electric fortwo, smart wouldn't have made it into the 2020s.

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