Smart is a unique car marque that focuses on building and designing micro cars and subcompacts. According to Smart, the ‘c’ in its logo stands for compact while the arrow in front of the ‘c’ stands for ‘forward thinking’. Smart cars are cars that challenge our general concepts of how cars ought to be, so many times, they draw mixed views and opinions. However, it has to be said that Smart cars make sense in the city. Thanks to their ultra-small sizes, they are easy to navigate through crowded city streets. It is also very easy to find parking spaces for them. Smart cars also excel in the fuel economy department thanks to their small, fuel-efficient engines and lightweight body structures.
Nicholas George Hayek conceived and developed the concept behind the ‘Smart car’. Nicholas was the former CEO of the Société de Microélectronique et d’Horlogerie (SMH)–the Swiss manufacturer of Swatch premium watches. Strange as it seemed, watchmaker Nicolas Hayek was passionate about this car concept, and he believed that automakers were missing out on a potentially large market–the market for ultra-small city cars. As he continued to develop the idea, Nicholas gave the car a name: the ‘Swatchmobile’ or ‘Swatch Car’. Nicholas also established a private engineering company called Hayek Engineering AG and used it to build the first two-seater version of the Swatchmobile. Going forward, however, Nicholas thought it wise to collaborate with another established automaker in the development of this micro car concept, and on July 3, 1991, he convinced Volkswagen to come on board. However, that partnership with Volkswagen was soon terminated when a new CEO took over at Volkswagen in 1993. Mr. Hayek kept trying to sell the idea to various automakers, and in 1994, he finally struck a deal with luxury car maker Daimler-Benz AG. The two companies established a new company called Micro Compact Car AG (MCC) to handle the development of the micro cars going forward. Also, to reflect the combined interests of the two companies, the name ‘Swatchmobile’ was changed to ‘Smart’, which was an acronym for ‘Swatch Mercedes Art’. Also, the same year, the MCC announced the establishment of a new production plant for the Smart car in Hambach, France that ended up being fondly referred to as ‘Smartville’.
In October 1998, the W450 Smart City-Coupé was released to the public; it was the first mass-produced Smart car model. From them, Daimler-Benz AG has rolled out the likes of the Smart Crossblade, Smart City Cabrio, Smart K (Japan only), Smart Roadster coupe/cabrio, Smart ForTwo coupe/cabrio, Smart ForFour hatchback, and electric drive versions of the ForTwo and ForFour cars. Today, Smart cars are sold in 46 countries around the world.
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