Daimler to focus Smart brand on electric cars in US, Canada

The gas-powered version of the nation's smallest auto is about to disappear from the USA motor scene, Mercedes-Benz announced on Monday. Mercedes-Benz racked in 6,211 Smart vehicle sales in the U.S.in 2016, a 16 percent drop from 2015. As of now, the new plans will not affect Smart auto sales strategies outside of North America. "Therefore, with the launch of the fourth-generation Smart ForTwo electric drive this summer, the Smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions Smart electric-drive coupe and cabrio in the US and Canada", wrote Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

As a city runabout and second vehicle, Smart's Fortwo with an electric powertrain make a ton of sense, with an estimated range of 76 miles in regular city driving conditions.

Smart began selling the Fortwo in the US for the 2008 model year before introducing an electric model for 2011.

The newest battery-powered Smart auto uses an electric motor that zaps the rear wheels with 80 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of torque. Current plans call for production to stop sometime in April, but gas-powered Smarts will remain on dealer lots until stock runs out.

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Moran did not specify whether the electrified transition would affect the 85 Smart dealerships in the U.S. The sales of small cars have been nicked by low gas prices, leaving American's once again opting for big SUV's.

The change does not apply to other markets outside North America, Daimler said. "The Smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero emissions smart electric drive coupe and cabrio (convertible) in the USA and Canada", Mercedes said in a statement. Although not particularly quick and limited to a driving range of approximately 70 to 80 miles, our initial impressions of the new ED left us impressed, as we feel the model does a far better job of fulfilling the Fortwo's mission as an urban runabout.

The gasoline Smart Fortwo was powered by a 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 89 horsepower.