Posted by Dale Buss on July 10, 2013 01:42 PM
"Urban mobility" is all the rage with auto makers these days, and none more so than Daimler. Combining this paradigm with the need to goose sales globally for its Smart minicar brand, the company has announced plans to introduce a Smart electric-powered scooter next year in Europe.
Daimler, also parent of Mercedes-Benz, has had trouble getting Smart onto a smooth plateau. The company killed a roadster in 2005 and a four-seater version of Smart in 2006 and has racked up 1.5 billion euros in losses since the brand's launch in 1998.
Even while other brands such as rival BMW, with Mini, and Fiat have figured out how to make and market tiny cars for global masses, Daimler just keeps misfiring with Smart. But the company says it plans to keep trying.
Lately, for example, Smart USA launched a new marketing campaign meant to emphasize the brand's quirky side as executives wait out a supply-dictated plateau of roughly 10,000 US sales a year at least until 2015.
Last year, Smart also introduced an electric version of the two-seater ForTwo and may roll out a revamp of the basic car as soon as next year, Bloomberg said. Daimler also has teamed up with Renault on a new Smart four-seater that's likely to reach showrooms next year.
The scooter—a prototype of which clocked a top speed of 28mph—and a $3,716 electric bike introduced last year are intended to help the brand address the broader opportunities for getting around in increasingly crowded cities in addition to the considerable maneuverability properties of the tiny Smart car.
"Smart is Daimler's answer to the challenges of today's megacities," said Annette Winkler, who heads Smart, according to the BenzInsider.com blog. Daimler clearly needs some kind of answer for Smart.