The adorable little Smart cars you see on North American roads from here on out will likely be primarily electric, as the company has decided to cease sales of its gas-powered Fortwo and Fortwo Cabrio in the U.S. and Canada from 2017 on.
It sounds like the decision has less to do with overwhelming demand for electric Smart cars, however, and more to do with the North American market’s tremendous preference for crossovers, SUVs and larger vehicles, all of which remained resilient categories in a year that was challenging for consumer car sales for many manfacturers. The micro segment, where the Fortwo remains one of only a few options, did not fare well in 2016, with Fortwo selling only just over 6,000 units in total for the year, as Roadshow notes.
The EV versions of the cars didn’t make up a huge percentage of those sales, either, according to Automotive News, comprising only 25 percent of sales in 2014. But the EV strategy with Smart is more about maintaining a foothold in what could become the next big market – and restricting options could drive more customers interested in the Smart lineup to begin with to go for the zero emission options that remain.
As a city runabout and second car, Smart’s Fortwo with an electric powertrain make a ton of sense, with an estimated range of 76 miles in regular city driving conditions. Still, this could also just be the first step in a general end of the line move for Smart in North America, especially if buyer habits continue to trend towards crossovers and trucks.