Daimler AG has launched new versions of its Smart ForTwo and ForFour city cars, which, as in previous models, make extensive use of plastics in exterior and interior parts.
Production of the first four-seater ForFour model was stopped in 2006 after only two years. Development of the new Smart ForTwo and ForFour was a joint project between Daimler and Renault SA, whose Twingo city car shares the same platform as the Smart cars.
The ForFour car will be made at Renault's plant in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, as part of a co-operation agreement with Renault. The ForTwo will continue production at Smart's plant in Hambach, France, which has received around 200 million euros ($275 million) in investment in connection with the new model.
Daimler said plastic body panels have been retained in the new Smart models. “This allows the king of the car park to shrug off any knocks and bumps from other road users,” the company said in its launch release.
The dashboard has prominent indicators and air vents and, optionally, can be clad in a mesh fabric.
Daimler said: “The infotainment center in modern consumer electronics style appears to hover in front of the dashboard. The interior thus reflects the values of a young, active and networked generation.”
“The typical Smart attributes are being carried into a new era: the typical silhouette with the ultra-short overhangs, the clear lines, forms and surfaces, the tridion [safety] cell and the updated, likeable Smart face," said Gorden Wagener, head of design at Daimler. "It is never easy to design the successor to a design icon — but it is all the more exciting."
To demonstrate the crash safety of the rear-engine Smart cars, Daimler conducted crash tests in which the two models performed well in frontal collisions with Mercedes S-Class and C-Class models.
Automotive News Europe, sister publication of EPN and Plastics News, reported Smart brand chief Annette Winkler's comments on the rationale for the new ForFour car. "The most frequent reason people don't pick the ForTwo is because it only has two seats," Winkler told Automotive News Europe at the Geneva automotive show in March. "A number of our customers want to stay with the brand and they said they would if we had a four-seat vehicle."