Mercedes-Benz-designed smart-branded new affordable electric crossover officially launched in China – FutureCar.com
author: FutureCar Staff
The Smart Concept #1 on display at the German International Motor Show in September 2021. (Photo: Alexander Migl)
The Smart brand, which was once synonymous with the ultra-compact and low-priced Smart Fortwo, is enjoying a new life as an electric car brand in China. The Smart brand is now owned and operated as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd (“Geely”) named Smart Automobile Co., Ltd.
Smart officially launched its new electric SUV in China on June 6 dubbed “Smart #1”, which will be sold in the Chinese market and exported worldwide. The official launch this week was reported by CarNewsChina.com.
The subcompact crossover was developed by Geely and Mercedes-Benz under the code name “HX11” and is the first Smart model to launch since the two automakers took over the Smart brand in 2019. It is also the largest model ever offered by Smart after the 2-seater Smart Fortwo city car first launched in 1998.
The new electric SUV is based on the Smart Concept #1, which was presented at the 2021 International Motor Show in Germany (IAA) in September last year.
The production version was first unveiled in April.
The production version of the #1 Smart electric crossover.
Smart-branded vehicles were once sold in the United States, but the brand has exited the North American market. But the new joint venture will produce Smart-branded cars in China that will be marketed worldwide. The joint venture is headquartered in Ningbo.
The brand new Smart model, a fully electric compact crossover, was designed by Mercedes Benz. It is based on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA) electric vehicle platform. It comes in a rear-wheel-drive configuration.
The SEA architecture will also underpin cars from Geely-owned Volvo Cars and Lynk & CO.
“We took the opportunity to reinvent the brand,” Daimler design chief Gorden Wagener said during a presentation to reporters in 2021 when the concept was unveiled. “The new Smart will be cool, sexy and grown-up instead of cute and playful.”
The SUV features a rear electric motor rated at a maximum output of 200kW, giving the SUV a 0-60mph time of 6.7 seconds. The motor is driven by a 66 kWh ternary lithium battery with a respectable CLTC range of 332 to 348 miles, depending on the model.
Charging the battery to 80% takes 7.5 hours with a standard Level 1 charger and approximately 30 minutes with the 150 kW DC fast charge mode.
The automaker said the affordable electric SUV would have a price range of just 190,000 to 230,000 yuan ($28,496 to $34,496) after subsidies.
The #1 Smart SUV adopts a new design language for the company, with styling cues reminiscent of concept vehicles. Although the SUV is tiny, the front grille features a daytime running light strip that connects to the headlights to form an “X” shape that enhances the car’s visual width.
Other exterior features include frameless doors with hidden door handles, which help reduce its drag coefficient to increase range. Other exterior design cues include two-tone paint, a floating roof, and taillamps that mirror the vehicle’s front light bar.
The Smart #1’s single cab features a retro-style steering wheel and LED interior mood lighting offering a choice of 64 colors with adjustable brightness. Like most new EVs, the Smart #1 features a slim 9.2-inch LCD instrument panel, driver’s head-up display (HUD) and a center-mounted 12.8-inch floating touchscreen in the middle of the dashboard.
The screen is linked to what Smart calls an “intelligent universe”, which is an intelligent human-computer assistant, in which most of the car’s functions can be controlled using voice commands alone.
The Smart #1 dashboard. (Picture: CarNewsChina.com)
The budget Smart #1 doesn’t offer self-driving features, but it does come with a suite of safety features. The small SUV comes with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) which include adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring system, traffic jam assist and park assist smart, among other safety features.
The Smart #1 can accommodate five people, although this depends on the size of the occupants since its dimensions are so small. It is equipped with folding rear seats that support a fore and aft sliding range of 13 cm and a tilt ratio of 4/6.
For cargo space, the trunk can hold up to 323 cubic liters of storage, which expands to 986 liters when the rear seats are folded flat. The front trunk, or “frunk”, offers 15 liters of additional storage.
Affordability is one of the barriers to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. The Smart #1 is therefore a good choice for budget-conscious electric vehicle buyers in China, which is the largest car market in the world.
It’s one of the reasons American automaker General Motors slashed the price of Chevy Bolt EVs and EUVs by $6,000 and up to 18% for the cheapest models a little more than that. one week. The Bolt EV now starts at $26,595, up from $32,495. Bolt EUV will start at $28,195 from $35,695.
“This change reflects our continued desire to ensure the Bolt EV/EUV are competitive in the marketplace,” GM said in a statement, adding “affordability has always been a priority for these vehicles.”
Geely and Mercedes-Benz each invested 2.7 billion yuan ($388.7 million) in the joint venture in 2019 with the aim of building “premium and intelligent electrified” vehicles under the Smart brand.
Chinese Geely is also the parent company of Swedish automaker Volvo Cars and also has a 9.7% stake in Mercedes-Benz.