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The German automotive division of Daimler AG, Smart is based in Boblingen, Germany. The focus of the marque is on microcars and sub-compact units.
Having its main plants in Hambach, France and Novo Mesto, Slovenia, Smart produces the Fortwo and Forfour models. As of 2015, Smart produced over 1.7 million units of its Fortwo model.
Realizing the lack of a stylized, small city car and the desire for one on the market, SMH, a Swiss watch brand developed the idea of building a car using watchmaking strategies. The SMH CEO, Nicolaes Hayek started the project and created what was to be known during the mid-80s as the Swatchmobile. The car featuring two seats and a hybrid power unit.
Realizing that other large automotive brands may feel threatened of the project, Nicolas Hayek decided to partner with Volkswagen instead of competing against it. However, as VW already had their own fuel-efficient, small town car, the SMH CEO had to look somewhere else for support. In the end, an informal agreement was reached with Daimler-Benz AG.
An assembly plant was opened on October 27th, 1997. Although the initial unveiling of the Smart Coupe was planned for March 1998, Diamler decided to push the date forward due to various dynamic instabilities of the prototypes. After a number of tuning operations on the suspension, steering and weight distribution, the car was launched successfully in October.
The model line was decided to be expanded due to the public having a positive response to the initial product. Thus, a rear-engined roadster amd a 4-door RWD unit (the FourFour) were introduced. The investments didn’t yield profit but rather cost Daimler 4 billion euros over three years. A number of prototypes were dropped and Smart cars was limited to producing the Fortwo coupe, Fortwocabrio and hatchback.
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