Interview at the 2021 IAA: smart Concept #1 & fortwo

It's just a study, is it really like that?

Indeed, the smart Concept # 1 is a near-series study. The upcoming smart will actually look like what we saw at the IAA. It will have a 12.8" display in the middle and offer a lot of space in the interior. In addition, the two-tone color scheme, which are typical for smart, will be retained. And of course there will also be many bright color options. Something that is also very important to me personally.

But it is also clear to smart that the suicide doors, for example, will not go into series production. This is one of the things that carmakers consciously do in studies so that the visitor can see the interior space and its size much better. In the series, the Concept # 1 will be a 5-seater and have an adjustable rear seat bank. It will get a large trunk and also have a frunk (trunk in front). In addition, it will probably not arrive on these huge 21-inch wheels. At least not in the base model.

Interview auf der IAA: Der smart Conecpt #1 & fortwo

fortwo, forfour and roaster

The Concept # 1 will not be the next smart forfour, it's going to be a new model and is therefore deliberately larger. But that does not mean the end of the forfour and certainly not that of the fortwo, these will definitely have a successor. Even I was skeptical, but I was convinced that there would be successors for both of them. We know very well that the platform on which Concept # 1 will be built, does not support a smart fortwo. That is why we will have to wait a little longer for this one than for the next forfour. But they are in discussion with your cooperation partner about how they can realise the next fortwo. Especially with regard to the fortwo something that, according to my information, even internally was a surprise to some.

What won't come back again is the roadster. Unfortunately, there is simply no market for this, even Mercedes had to discontinue the SLC at the beginning of 2019.

The Concept # 1 will be at customers garages by the end of 2022

After the presentation, my greatest concern and fear was that this concept car is simply too much concept and too little series. Like many of you, I had seen the things typical of a study and concluded that there was very little series production ready stuff. But in fact, the final car is already 80-90% done and will come to Europe in a few months for test drives and the European homologation.

The record time for a new car can be achieved by building on the SEA2 platform from cooperation partner Geely. This has been in development since 2017/18 and the final version was finally presented months ago. The designers at Daimler where able to freely design the now smart on top of it. The production plant in China is also already finished and the Concept # 1 will be manufactured on the same line as vehicles from other brands that are based on the same platform.

Interview auf der IAA: Der smart Conecpt #1 & fortwo

Charging time, range, infotainment system

They are still reluctant to give specific information about the battery and things like the charging time. But the key things have already been confirmed: The smart Concept # 1 will have 430 km (WLTP) and should be able to be charged from 5% to 80% within 30 minutes. There will be two drive variants, the rear-wheel drive typical of smart and also all-wheel drive. There will also be two battery variants.

In other interviews it has already been announced that the rear-wheel drive will use an asynchronous motor and that the all-wheel drive variant will come as a Brabus version in 2023. The infotainment system will not be based on MBUX, it's going to be from the Geely subsidiary ECARX. The computing chip of the system is from Qualcomm and the battery cells are obtained from CATL. Lithium-ion cells, on which smart wants to give an 8-year guarantee. Cheaper, but cold-sensitive LFP cells are categorically excluded.

The new sound system will be a special highlight. The speakers of the study already have the "b" of the premium brand "Beats". The Apple subsidiary will deliver the sound system, whether this is already included in the standard equipment or only for larger ones, is still open.

If you research more deeply the platform, you stumble across 58 kWh and 68 kWh, these are the smallest batteries that "fit". Performances will probably be in the region from over 200 PS to over 300 PS. The size of the battery also results in charging capacities of 125 kW or perhaps even 150 kW. It is very clear that the next smart will be able to charge ussing the CCS quick charge standard.

Brabus, Tailormade and special editions

We had all heard the rumor that the contracts between smart and Brabus would expire at the end of 2021. This has now also been confirmed: The contracts are actually running out. But not because they no longer want to work with Brabus, but because there is no other legal option. smart is no longer a Daimler subsidiary, but a new, independent company, which is held equally by Daimler and Geely. For this reason, the manufacturer identification in the chassis number also changed at the end of 2019 (old: WME, new: W1A). And for this reason, all dealers' contracts were terminated years ago. Now the smart Automobile Co. Ltd negotiate new contracts with Brabus and then the cooperation goes on.

"We are still doing a lot of smarts. If we were to take a look at the workshop over there in Plant 2, it would still be full, full, full. But of course, with the development of smart, the whole situation will change over the next 2 years. But will then continuo in a different way..", Constantin Buschmann, CEO at BRABUS GmbH. In an interview with Jean Pierre Kraemer, Managing Director JP Performance.

Interview auf der IAA: Der smart Conecpt #1 & fortwo

My conclusion

The brand is rebuilding and organizing everything fresh. From what I have heard, the next 1-2 years will provide more clearety, but we have to give them their time. I can also confirm that smart is very concerned about its community and for example would like to stay in contact with me. They are very concerned about the fan base and don't want to lose contact with them.

"We know. It’s different. What happened? The future happened. A lot of jaws were dropped when we launched 20 years ago bringing a radically sensible, new way of living in the city to create a smarter future. Our mission hasn’t changed. The times have."

- smart's new website (06.09.2021)