From BBC News - no idea of the date:BBC News blip
By Caroline Wyatt
The Swiss entrepreneur behind the Smart car, whose product was delayed after it failed the notorious "elk test," have admitted that he and his partner Daimler-Benz, may have rushed its development in their haste to launch it by next April. Speaking on German television, Nicholas Hayek of the Swiss company SMH, admitted that the delay until next autumn would cost the joint venture some 300 million deutchmarks. Caroline Wyatt reports from Bonn.
The two-seater Smart car is the latest attempt by Daimler-Benz to muscle its way into the small car market, the industry's biggest-selling sector. But once again the company has faultered at the hurdle of the "elk test."
It's the same stability test, driving the car fast around sharp turns as if avoiding an animal on the road, that the new Mercedes Benz A-class failed last month, to the acute embarrassment of its makers. Now Daimler's partner in this joint venture, the Swiss manufacturer better known for its Swatch watches, has admitted that mistakes were made and that they may have rushed the cars development in their eagerness to put it on the market by next April.
It normally takes the industry around seven years before a new model is ready for production. If sales of the Smart car are delayed as expected until next October, it would only have spent five years in development.
Motoring industry analysts are beginning to question whether Daimler has over-stretched itself, in its attempt to break out of the luxury market. Meanwhile commentators in the German press have shown a certain amount of Schaden Freude in their editorials, remarking that this latest brush with the "elk test" has left a rather nasty dent in Daimler's reputation.