Is Smart brooding on a new ForTwo?

Last month, the last units of the Smart ForTwo came off the line at the plant in Hambach, France. There are rumors that Smart is brooding on a successor but has difficulties finding partners to join forces for the project. Smart Europe CEO Dirk Adelmann recently announced that the company is developing a new platform for such a small car.

Following the end of production of the current electric Fortwo, Smart has begun developing a successor based on a new platform called Electric Compact Architecture (ECA), Dirk Adelmann, CEO of Smart Europe, said in an interview with Automotive News Europe. However, the manager did not reveal when such a model could be launched.

In need of partners

The major challenge with the project is cost, an even bigger problem with smaller and cheaper cars. Although Smart, now a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Geely, is already developing a new platform, other fundamental questions still need to be addressed. Smart is still looking for partners to share the costs of that new Smart #2 so that it can actually hit the road.

“Two months ago, we began working on a new, dedicated platform to underpin a future Smart two-seat city car, but we need partners to make its business case feasible,” Adelman said.

Talks with other car manufacturers, including Renault and Chinese manufacturers, apparently failed to produce any results yet.

The negotiations with Renault are logical, as the French were also partners in the third Smart generation, building the Smart Forfour and the current Twingo, which are technically the same car, in the same (Renault) factory in Slovo Mesto, Slovenia. But apparently, Renault is less inclined to step in, feeling abandoned by its former partner when it already dropped the ForFour in 2021.

A new, dedicated platform

To keep costs as low as possible, Smart has already looked for suitable platforms within the Geely Group that could have been shortened to 2.7 to 2.8 meters for an electric two-seater. At the same time, such a vehicle would have had to offer a premium feel and meet high safety standards.

“We want to stick to four- or five-star crash test rating on the Euro NCAP, to ADAS functionalities like in our #1 and #3, to have a decent range,” Adelmann said. “Definitely, we have to develop a platform because, unfortunately, it does not exist yet.” Should the EV be approved for production, it would thus be a Smart-owned platform.

Market potential

Adelmann cited retailers and customers as indicating the potential for such a model. They are looking for a model that combines the dimensions and maneuverability of the old Fortwo with an electric drive and state-of-the-art connectivity.

However, Adelmann did not want to comment on the quantities involved. With his remark that the vehicle will be designed to offer a “premium feel,” it seems clear that the Smart #2 will not (only) be sold because of its price, meaning that it won’t be very cheap.

Smart launched its first ForTwo in 1998, followed by a second generation in 2006 and a third in 2014. The outgoing ForTwo was still Smart’s best-seller in Europe in the first two months of the year, with 2,022 sales, a 28 percent decline over the same period in 2023.

In its peak years, sales of the first generation, combustion-engine-only ForTwo reached 140,000 units a year, with its biggest markets being in Southern Europe. Right now, with the departure of the current Smart ForTwo, there are no other two-seaters available in Europe homologated as passenger cars.

Electric two-seaters, such as the Citroen Ami, and microcars, such as the Microlino, are classified as quadricycles, which must comply with fewer safety and technical requirements.

Annette Winkler (r.), then CEO of Smart, was pictured on the line in Hambach at the start of the electric ForTwo in 2012. In the French factory, sold to Ineos, Grenadiers and other future Ineos models will be assembled /Smart




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