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King of Smart Gadgetry
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Isn't it sad that Mercedes Benz is taking away our little car. There were so many people that bought the first Fortwos back in 2008, even put money up for a deposit. Look how many people have been let down over the way the Smart brand has done us. They give us a great little car and now Smart is all but a memory. So many stood behind the brand. I guess it's easy to see all the mistakes MB made concerning advertising and customer service. We have always felt like the red headed stepchild of MB, especially at servicing time at the MB dealership.

I came to the party too late. Saw my first 2008 model and fell in love, yet I wasn't in a position to own one until 2015, and by then most of ardor for the fortwo was over. I joined the forum full tilt full of the enthusiasm of a new father. My posts were full of questions and projects and pictures. My chest swelled with pride when I drove Max around. People would come up and ask questions. I reveled in owning something that in my neighborhood was so unique. I gleened the internet for info, pictures and articles, joined Evilution, downloaded Alldata info. I wanted to learn all I possibly could about my tiny little car. I went to my FIRST Smart Rally, the April Fools Rally in 2017 at Lima Ohio and for me it was the trip of a lifetime. I got to meet so many great people.

I'm sure MB has lost lots of money over the Fortwo. Some of it was their fault and probably some of it wasn't. They didn't market the Fortwo much after the initial year or two. I just wish it would have caught on better with the American people. Slightly underpowered, yes, herky jerky transmission, yes, mileage not on par with what people expected for that size of car, yes, lot's more bad press than good, yes. You either like it or you hate it. If you're on this forum you probably own one and probably therfore like it.

I walked downstairs to the garage this morning and there sat my dusty little Fortwo. He has been sitting for a couple of months. Last time I drove him was back in the beginning of October on a 8 hour round trip to Virginia for me to be on a radio show. In the corner is a pile of items I have bought to do more upgrades and changes, as though I haven't changed or modified poor Max enough already. Just like last year when I had burned valves and many things to do before that April Fools Rally, this year I have many things to do to Max before the Rally. Paramount is get that Daystar lift kit on that took me well over 3 months to get. Get those new tires and rims on. Get those fake rear disc brake rotors on, get those rearview mirror LED's on. Get the car over to get the seats redone in leather. The list goes on....

If I didn't have Max to toy with I would be toying with the ski boat, the motorhome or redoing my ton dually GMC pickup. So why Max? Why is there such a drive inside of me to finish my little car to the exact specs of my dreamcar in my mind? I have ask myself the same question and I don't know the answer to it. Is anyone else out there in the same boat as me with your own Fortwo story? DCO
 

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Definitely sad. I remember watching the crash test videos more than a decade ago that sold me on the viability of this fun little car. I love small cars and I’ve owned a Suzuki Swift 3-cylinder, a Subaru Justy and DL, and my ‘08 Smart Passion. Of them all, the Smart has been the most fun.

I doubt we will ever see the small cars I learned to love while living in Japan. The Toyota Sera, Suzuki Cervo, Daihatsu Charade, Honda Beat, and other K-Cars will likely never see US shores due to safety and pollution standards. The Smart was the closest so far and will be sorely missed by those who love them.
 

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Isn't it sad that Mercedes Benz is taking away our little car.

My answer is “no,” not sad... at least not about the smart’s disappearing act.

Mercedes Benz is not worthy of reaping the benefit of what the smart could’ve been. They deserve to lose it. smart played it too safe with the 453 by seeking mass appeal, thereby abandoning its innovative charm... to seek mainstream ‘competence’.

Mercedes Benz became risk-aversive, whereas the the original smarts embraced risk. smart was a rousing triumph of design, not necessarily measurable by US sales, and fulfilled its real mission – look how many have followed in its footsteps of possibilities.

But now that the 453 has become a mere caricature of a smart, it needs to leave the stage... to make room for newer inspired cars that won’t be crippled by a bad case of the Benz blahs.

When the smart was reengineered to fit into a stupid world, all hope was lost. I’m good with ‘gone’. Make room for something even smarter. Something with real balls, like the first smarts had.

Sad... that MB is pathetic? Hell, yeah.
 

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Unfortunately, smart’s “golden years” were right after its birth. They hit it out of the park with the original W450 city coupe, then they surprised their fans everywhere by taking a concept car (the crossblade), changing basically nothing, then selling it to the public. They tried to do it AGAIN by taking a roadster concept, changing little, then putting it on the road too.

Unfortunately, the roadster is also where smart began falling apart. The roadster was rushed to production and as a result it sparked so many warranty claims the company lost money despite healthy sales. Those sales were so good in fact, that despite smart being in more markets today with more reliable models they still cannot beat the sales year the roadster hit its stride over a decade ago.

The forfour was a great effort in righting the ship, but then smart decided to enter the US market with a SUV, eventually killing itself right before starting production. The fortwo was never meant for America, it was supposed to be a SUV...

The Mercedes-Benz rescue proved to be what smart needed. With the W451, Mercedes-Benz turned smart from a money burner into the money maker where it largely remains today even after sales in the US crashed after the reservations and orphans were sold away, smart chugged along anyway.

It looks like MB was expecting the 453 twins to be big big winners. Sadly, the sales data shows a more lukewarm response. The C453 (fortwo) failed to come close to the W451’s best year and is on a slow decline and the W453 (forfour) is on the same trajectory. It seems making smart more “normal” is working against them.

Now for whatever reason they have decided to dump ICE entirely and from what I can see, the ED program is dead too. Long live EQ!

DCO - You aren’t alone. There is still a rabid base of smart fans. Most of them reside in Europe but some of us reside in the US too. I’m going to collect these cars until the day I die!!! I’ll never not love smart. I love the car and the company so much I’m naming myself Mercedes when I get around to doing my legal changes. My love for smart will never change, even if they went all in with this EQ stuff. <3

I have to meet you one day, I have to personally see all of your projects! :D Likewise, I have to meet Steven too!! <3 Maybe that’s how I can spend some weekends, drive/fly out to SCoA members I haven’t met yet!!!
 

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Smart isn't a failure in Europe. They've sold over a million cars. Here in the US though is another story. When the best selling vehicles every year are pickup trucks and SUVs, a microcar is a hard sell. It's our culture that has made it unsuccessful in the past. As for the future, that's a different story. I think a recent series of mis-steps has killed it's future. Electric cars are the future whether you embrace it or not, but being the first company to be 100% electric before the general public has embraced it, is going to be the death of the marque. They also engineered the 453 around the ICE, if they had actually engineered it with pure BEV in mind, they could have made a much better car than the 453ED. The fact that the 453ED gets worse mileage than the 451 is bad engineering on their part. The fact that the $7500 federal tax credit is going away soon will be the final nail in the coffin.
 

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Is there a total withdrawal notice that I have missed? I know that the pathetically low sales of the underperforming electric drive will be tantamount to smart's disappearance, but as long as one model is still sold here, a total pullout is not official.

I rather like my 450 diesel despite all the issues these cars have. The 451 never appealed to me and I'd not have bought one - I had a chance to in 2012 but bought a Fiesta instead (BIG mistake!). The 453 even less so. I expect that someday not too far off I will give the smart to one of my kids and that will be it for me with this brand.
 

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Niche small vehicle aren’t in demand here. Fuel is cheap. It’s never hit the $5-6 dollar range, predicted years ago. I traded a loaded Grand Cherokee for the smart car. Running scared of paying high gas prices. Traded it. The old smart sales manager bought it. She’s still driving it.

Penske and Mercedes-Benz, have never really advertised the smart car. The 451 model got bad Publicity, for the Buckeyes beaver transmission. Fuel economy so so. Use of premium fuel. Rough, and noisy ride.

The new model arrives, still no advertisement. No one knows there’s a new improved smart car. SUV, small crossovers are in demand. MB could have imported the four door smart here. Loss that opportunity there. Chevy Spark sells well, and other small city cars like it.

I enjoy driving small cars. That’s all we own. My favorite is the Fiat 500 out of all them. That brand, is on it death spiral too.

Small is dead. Sad.
 

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Small is dead.
The concept of ‘small’ is (and always has been) the BIG problem for smart, because it translates to no perceived benefit for most people.

In 2007/8, the automotive media forewarned that the ‘small’ smart, for the sake of being small, was untenable as a viable mass-market vehicle.

If small can’t even achieve superior fuel economy, then the only half-baked favorable points are: urban parking, its uniqueness or novelty, or as a social statement.

But for those meager salient points, one must give up (by commonly perceived standards) 4-seat roominess, comfort, safety (remember, a perceptual barrier), cargo space comfort, performance, resale value, access to service (location dependent, of course), well-accepted design aesthetics, solid brand reputation, etc., etc.

In other words, small makes for a tough sell with zero upside value for most people.

We loyalists were the risk-takers and early-adopters. But even among us, for many the novelty has worn off, and the real-world realities of life with a smart, versus superior competitive choices, has given us a wake-up call.

I repeat that I love the original smart concept. But now, technology has spawned a plethora of sensible vehicles that make better-rounded everyday drivers.

The smart was an exercise in packaging. I bought mine as an attempt to recapture my nostalgic Isetta years. But the lack of support, the real-world driving/depreciation costs, and the realization that ‘small’ just for the sake of being small holds no benefit to me, has now tarnished my affection for today’s MB-managed smart brand.

My love for smart is still fond, but it’s now more akin to a toxic relationship... best savored as a fading memory.

YMMV (but the voting marketplace has agreed).
 

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King of Smart Gadgetry
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Discussion Starter #9
I guess it's just that my personality always chooses the different choice. I started out driving at 16 and drove typical cars like a 66 Mercury Comet and a 65 Chevy Chevelle. My mndset back then was that I would NEVER own anything but a V8 and a large one at that.

I drove my uncles 1981 Ford Pinto with a 4 speed and it was painfully slow and noisey. Then in college I turned to luxury cars. I owned a couple Lincolns and a couple of big Chryslers. Then after getting married and starting a family at 20 I wanted to do the family type of things so I wanted a boat and a camper.

I worked on cars on the side and due to the fact I had damaged the trunk of my moms big old Dodge Polara hauling a complete Chrysler Hemi 392 home, my dad finally convinced me I needed a truck, like any successful man would want. Well I bought a full size chevy blazer and the 3 wheelers were just starting to be the craze so I started mudding which is a natural pastime here in WV anyway. So I decided I wanted a chevy 4WD dually with a standard cab to tow my 30ft camper and my ski boat and still go mudding or hauling cars home on my car hauling trailer. Couldn't find a truck to suit me so I bought a ton dually 2wd and a partial one ton pickup and a blazer and built me a 4wd dually 454 4 speed monster, body lift and suspension lift. Generator and toolbox in the back, rollbar and every gadget I could find.(Still have it 28 yrs later). But 8 mpg loaded or empty gets old.

Sold camper and bought a Winnebago 31 ft motorhome 454. Stopped driving truck as much. Bought an astro van with a V6 and drove it for several years. Then bought a Mustang with a V6 because my daughter was old enough to start driving. That's when I saw my first Fortwo. A red 08 Passion for sale at our local Ford dealership. It passed me one day on interstate like I was sitting still. Well I looked at it but at 15,995 I couldn't afford it with a daughter ready to go to college and a son right behind her a couple of years. So I put a pic of a Fortwo on my laptop desktop and looked at it everyday for 6 years. I talked myself out of it that long because who wanted a 3 cylinder anyway?

Well I waited until 2015 to buy. What attracted me to it was the novelty of it and I mean size. It was bright shiny red. It was unconventional with rear engine, good old German engineering a product of the first car maker on the planet Daimler Benz. The darn thing just appealed to me. So I only regretted the purchase off it one evening when I found out it had burned valves. But I quickly got over it. It was practical for me because kids are grown and gone, just me and the wife. She has a Kia Forte, 4 doors plenty of room for family type things. I have an old Dodge Dakota club cab with a V8 no less, but for all my solo trips it's the Fortwo. I don't drive it in the winter or even in bad weather in summer if I can help it.

I have no sympathy for MB and the predicament they caused, but it's sympathy for those of us who don't want to drive a car like everyone else on the block owns. I never wanted a vehicle like everyone else. Every vehicle I've ever owned I always customized the daylights out of it so it reflected me. So to that end my Fortwo is modified in alot of areas but in hidden ways. Kept the engine pretty much stock up to now, but I find myself hankering for a turbo. So if I find one that is super cheap I may go that route, who knows. But I reiterate that I am sad for all the people who have never got to experience the joy of driving a Fortwo. I just like Miss Mercedes fell for the brand hook line and sinker. It's the story of my life. Everything I fall for goes away. It goes back to Commodore 64 computers and Ensoniq keyboards....well you get the picture.

Maybe one day I'll be driving out corridor D on the way home and something will pass me that will catch my attention like the Fortwo did and it will start the cycle all over again, I don't know. I share a love for micro cars so who knows? DCO
 

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The concept of ‘small’ is (and always has been) the BIG problem for smart, because it translates to no perceived benefit for most people.

In 2007/8, the automotive media forewarned that the ‘small’ smart, for the sake of being small, was untenable as a viable mass-market vehicle.

If small can’t even achieve superior fuel economy, then the only half-baked favorable points are: urban parking, its uniqueness or novelty, or as a social statement.

But for those meager salient points, one must give up (by commonly perceived standards) 4-seat roominess, comfort, safety (remember, a perceptual barrier), cargo space comfort, performance, resale value, access to service (location dependent, of course), well-accepted design aesthetics, solid brand reputation, etc., etc.


In other words, small makes for a tough sell with zero upside value for most people.

We loyalists were the risk-takers and early-adopters. But even among us, for many the novelty has worn off, and the real-world realities of life with a smart, versus superior competitive choices, has given us a wake-up call.

I repeat that I love the original smart concept. But now, technology has spawned a plethora of sensible vehicles that make better-rounded everyday drivers.

The smart was an exercise in packaging. I bought mine as an attempt to recapture my nostalgic Isetta years. But the lack of support, the real-world driving/depreciation costs, and the realization that ‘small’ just for the sake of being small holds no benefit to me, has now tarnished my perception of today’s MB-managed smart brand.

My love for smart is still fond, but it’s now more akin to a toxic relationship... best savored as a fading memory.

YMMV (but the voting marketplace has agreed).
Wonderful post Steven. Worth repeating.

The only things I would add Transmission problems, in part having to play around shifting into reverse (that would be both my 08 and 09), in the 30+ vehicles I have owned I have Never had that problem and never had to go in and clean a shift actuator motor, onward to ..subwoofer malfunctions, gas tank filling, panoramic roof crazing and the occasional engine fire.
Other than the above mentioned, it's almost an OK car.
 

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The only things I would add Transmission problems, in part having to play around shifting into reverse (that would be both my 08 and 09), in the 30+ vehicles I have owned I have Never had that problem and never had to go in and clean a shift actuator motor, onward to ..subwoofer malfunctions, gas tank filling, panoramic roof crazing and the occasional engine fire.
Other than the above mentioned, it's almost an OK car.
Wow, maybe that's why they went all electric
 

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Other than the above mentioned, it's almost an OK car.

And you know what? It was those very quirks and niggles that compelled us defend and root for our pint-sized underdogs. And that unified help-me-fix-it acceptance of our “un-cars”, is largely what caused us to form such strong relationships at SCoA. That’s why so many of us have always forgiven the cantankerous smart for its shortcomings and sins. We saw it as misunderstood on the US stage, and it seemed to ‘need’ us to survive. Oddly, the 453 never quite needed us in the same way. It was conceptually too refined; too good. It didn’t beckon us for help in the same soulful way.
 

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It is sad.... because honestly, the only car I can honestly say that i'd LOVE to have anymore... is a Tesla. And right now... I can't really afford a Tesla... neither a Model S or a Model 3. I love my ForTwo. I loved my 2009 Brabus Coupe (though i was annoyed that people couldn't seem to stop HITTING the freakin thing every year) when i stupidly traded it in on a 2013 Dodge Dart (that turned out to be a piece of sh*t).... and i love my now 2016 ForTwo Prime Coupe.

And it's not even so much the idea of "small" being a hard sell in and of itself that caused the massive decline and more than likely inevitable pull-out to-be of Smart. It's just the fact that no matter how much they pushed the idea, people never did, and STILL don't believe that the Smart is a safe car. They don't see small as safe. They think that having a gigantic SUV with 3 rows of seats plus enough trunk space to fit a kayak (even though they spend 85% of their time behind the wheel by themselves with no passengers)is the safest way to travel. They think that the bigger the car, the safer the car, when it wasn't until just a few years ago that testing the ROOF strength of vehicles became a standard in vehicles over a certain weight... which are typically the vehicles PRONE to rolling onto their roof.
 

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King of Smart Gadgetry
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Discussion Starter #15
When I was in high school I owned and drove a 1969 Dodge Charger. I kicked myself for years for ever getting rid of that car and still do. It was my dream car. But with 69 Charger prices through the roof I will never be able to afford one. So the only other car to catch my attention in a major way was a Fortwo. Well I can afford one of those. So I did and it's my dream car, thus my avator DreamCarOwner, DCO.

https://imgur.com/Vk6tPLv

https://imgur.com/f8QfRSM
 

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I'm sad about the coming "orphan car" status, particularly since I have done enough mods to my 2009 coupe to really make it my own. Just bought it a new set of Yokohamas, had the pano roof replaced, and it only has 34,000 on the clock. I've always loved quirky cars, hence my 1960 Metropolitan and now I am seriously considering a low-mileage 2003-2005 Ford Thunderbird. A friend has a 2004 that only has 30,000 miles. It will need new tires, belts and hoses, all fluids flushed, and then a new rear bumper cover and probably all coil packs and plugs replaced. It will have it's own foibles, and difficulty in finding a few important restoration parts. It's all part of the car hobby. Part of me wants to wait for the new smaller Tesla to become more easily available, but my friend with the T-Bird needs the money. Anyway, I continue to enjoy the smart, and given it's low resale value, it's more important to keep it for the easy city parking than sell or trade it for next to nothing. And it will offset the poor mpg of the T-Bird.
 

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MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
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And you know what? It was those very quirks and niggles that compelled us defend and root for our pint-sized underdogs. And that unified help-me-fix-it acceptance of our “un-cars”, is largely what caused us to form such strong relationships at SCoA. That’s why so many of us have always forgiven the cantankerous smart for its shortcomings and sins. We saw it as misunderstood on the US stage, and it seemed to ‘need’ us to survive. Oddly, the 453 never quite needed us in the same way. It was conceptually too refined; too good. It didn’t beckon us for help in the same soulful way.
That my friend, is some good stuff! Well said ...

smart has been the "glue" that allowed us to form friendships (sometimes cantankerous) with folks literally around the world.
 

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What is happening to the smart fortwo?
Aside from them no longer importing any gasoline-powered ForTwo's since about 5-6 months ago, going completely electric for the United States, cutting out probably 90% of what little customer base they already had to being with, which will probably end up causing the Smart brand to no longer be available in the US probably within a year or two? not much...
 
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