The gas-powered version of the nation’s smallest car is about to disappear from the U.S. motor scene, Mercedes-Benz announced on Monday. The Smart car, which was introduced just about the time that gasoline prices were hitting a record high, will no longer be sold in the U.S. and Canada after the 2017 model year.
While the gas-powered version might be leaving the U.S. and Canada, Mercedes says that the electric version of the Smart car will go on. The electric version will “play an important role” and will have “dedicated focus” in the forefront of other electric cars that the automaker plans to offer.
“Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio,” Dietmar Exler, head of Mercedes-Benz USA wrote. “A dedicated focus on the electric drive in the U.S. and Canada provides a logical step to support a sustainable, zero emissions future.”
The gas-powered Smart car comes in at only eight fee, eight inches long and consists of only two seats. When the vehicle came to the U.S. market in 2008, it was unlike anything that Americans had seen in large numbers in a long time.
The Smart car, built in France, is based on a 1998 design and has changed little in looks over the years. The car has never been branded as one of the German luxury cars, although Mercedes manages Smart in the U.S.
The first Smart Fortwo for the U.S. market got about 40 mpg on the highway. While those numbers were good, they were not great considering the stature of the car. The tiny car featured a three-cylinder, 70-horsepower engine.
Despite the promising number of the initial 30,000 reservations ahead of the launch, Smart never became a big seller. Last year, Mercedes-Benz’ Smart division only sold 6,211 cars, which was down 17 percent from the previous year.
However, the Smart cars aren’t the only tiny cars who have seen declining sales. The sales of small cars have been nicked by low gas prices, leaving American’s once again opting for big SUV’s. Due to the decline, Mercedes funneled many of its Smart cars into the car sharing service Car2go.
The sharing service recently announced its decision to go from the Smart cars to a Mercedes-Benz’ small CLA sedan and GLA crossover.
However, Mercedes says that the fourth-generation Smart electric car will start this summer. “The Smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero emissions smart electric drive coupe and cabrio (convertible) in the U.S. and Canada,” Mercedes said in a statement.