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Daimler is going all-electric with 'Smart' cars in North America

Say goodbye to the gas-powered 2-seaters at the end of the year.
Andrew Tarantola, @terrortola
February 14, 2017
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Reuters

Smart, a subsidiary of Daimler AG, announced on Tuesday that starting in 2018 all of its vehicles sold in North America will be of the electric variety. The company plans to stop selling the gas-powered Fortwo and Fortwo Cabrio in the US and Canada at the end of the 2017 model year.

"Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current Smart product portfolio," Smart's statement read. "As a result, Smart will discontinue sales of the gasoline powered Smart Fortwo and Fortwo Cabrio for the US and Canadian markets after model year 2017."

If Smart's sales figures are any indication, one of its biggest challenges is that there simply isn't much demand for the tiny vehicles. Between low gas prices and America's overwhelming preference for trucks, crossovers and other large vehicles, Smart only sold about 6,000 vehicles in 2016. That's down from its 2008 peak when the company sold 24,622 cars, 30 percent of which were EVs.

Still, as the US slowly warms to EVs, this could provide Smart with an important toehold in that emerging market. Questions remain, however, as to whether Smart's vehicles will ever really gain traction outside of cities or as secondary runabouts. Sure, an electric engine's ability to instantly produce large amounts of torque will help with the Fortwo's abysmal acceleration (really, what did you expect from a .9-liter inline-3?) but its 76-mile range is a far cry from what other EVs can offer and drastically limits the car's usefulness on the open road.

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