Smart History

Smart is an auto manufacturer of tiny city cars, part of Daimler AG, makers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The company was started in 1994 and is based in Boblingen, Germany. The corporate emblem is a letter ‘c’ denoting the compact nature of its products, with an arrow facing right, to show forward thinking.

The original idea for the company came from Nicolas Hayek, CEO of SMH, maker of the popular Swatch brand of watches. He believed that the demographic that wanted only a small city car was being ignored by the large auto manufacturers. He approached several manufacturers with the idea, and in 1991 struck a deal with Volkswagen to share in development. However, in 1993 VW got a new CEO, Dr. Ferdinand Piech, grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, and he immediately sought to terminate the agreement with SMH and Hayek, because VW was pursuing its own small fuel-efficient car. Hayek had already anticipated this, and had started approaching other carmakers to take over from VW. After being politely declined by BMW, Fiat, GM and Renault, he finally had an agreement to partner with Daimler-Benz in 1994.

The company originally produced the Smart Fortwo, in addition to a sporty Smart roadster, a small SUV called the Smart Forfour, and even a futuristic-looking model with open sides and truncated windscreen, dubbed the Smart Crossblade. However, all these projects eventually had to be shut down, except the Fortwo, due mainly to low sales.

Smart Models

In New Zealand, the only model on sale is the only model Smart produces- the Fortwo. It is a rear-engine 2-seater microcar. The Fortwo is in its 2nd generation, and Smart is planning an all-electric version. Because of its tiny size, owners find that they don’t even have to bother to parallel-park, they can simply drive up to the pavement because the car’s length is equal to many other cars’ widths.

Looking at buying a Smart? Check the vehicle history of any Smart by entering its number plate in the field above.