smart Car History

It's hard to believe it, but the very first smart car came to the market and the world's roads almost twenty-years ago. A funky alternative to the somewhat boxy small cars that were available from other manufacturers at the time, the smart car came as a breath of fresh air.

Since then the smart car has become a common sight, selling a significant number of vehicles in the UK and around the world. In fact the original smart design, the fortwo, has surpassed sales of 1.7m units across Asia, North and South America, Africa, Australia and Europe.

smart models

Currently there are three different smart models on sale in the UK. The first is the latest generation of the original smart car, now known as the smart fortwo, whilst the second is a convertible version, the fortwo cabrio. Rounding off the current smart offering in the UK is the forfour, a four seater that is designed with families in mind.

Whichever model you select however, you can also choose between three different versions:

  • The standard, entry-level model
  • A special edition that has been tuned by the team at BRABUS
  • An electrically powered iteration

The smart car has been available with an electric motor for over ten years now. The most recent generation comes fitted with a 17.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, which gives drivers a range of 99 miles.

The history of the smart car

Although Mercedes-Benz had been developing the concept of a subcompact car, the smart car's inception and road to market can be credited to Nicolas Hayek, the CEO of Swatch, the Swiss-company famed for creating watches. Hayek had come up with the idea of creating a small car by utilising the same customisation and manufacturing processes and strategies that the company was already using to generate its range of sought after and well-regarded timepieces. After several false starts, including a deal with Volkswagen that fell through due to a change in VW's management, he eventually struck an agreement with Mercedes-Benz.

Once financing terms had been agreed, Swatch and Mercedes-Benz formed a new company known as Micro Compact Car AG (MCC), setting up a head office in Switzerland and a dedicated factory unit in Hambach, France, that became known as smartville. Incidentally, the name smart is an acronym derived from 'Swatch Mercedes Art'.

For more information about the smart car, prices and trim levels, please visit your local Mercedes-Benz Retail Group dealership today.