But how are we arrived at the smart?
When she appeared on the Canadian market in 2005, the smart fortwo has created a real tidal tide. Everyone wanted to know everything about her. You should have seen the head of the onlookers when they would reply that it was powered by a diesel engine and it was built by Mercedes-Benz … and she already was traveling in Europe for several years! Rarely a car was as polarized opinions that ranged from total disgust at the stroke of heart the most violent.
The history of the automobile for the bizarre began in 1972 when Mercedes-Benz is working on the design of the car of the year 2000. The crisis of 1973 oil strengthens the company in its desire to develop a small city car.
When Mercedes is visionary
First sketches already show a car two-seater electric motor at the front and at the back battery, endowed with a plunging nose, a truncated rear portion and a very short wheelbase (for a total length of 2.5 meters), a practice which clashes huge sedans or sports Mercedes-Benz. But the project is running short, the level of security does not meet standards.
It was not until 1981 before the project of a city resurface. The NAFA project (Nahverkehrsfahrzeug or Local Traffic Vehicle) provides a more Carree car, following the fashion of the time. The study concludes fishtail, the public (read Americans, no doubt) preferring, despite the second oil crisis in the late 70s, large format cars. The city would then Mercedes-Benz has help meet the new standard CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy).
Following the NAFA project
Small jump in time until 1988. The engineers of the noble German brand NAFA resume the project, this time by grafting an electric motor. Two teams each working on a different project. One of these, the A 93 UNVEILED Vision at the IAA in 1993, later became the Class A. For its part, the other project, the MCC (Micro Compact Car) is slowly taking shape.
By 1991, MCC enters into development phase for all new California design studios Mercedes. On 4 July 1992 the Board of Directors of Mercedes sees, for the first time, plans in real size (scale 1: 1) of the city and agrees to initiate the production of a first functional prototype. Already, the idea of a cabriolet MCC is in the air.
And sometimes the one who shows the way …
While the work is going well, the case grows unexpectedly way in Germany. Nicolas G. Hayek has made a fortune by revolutionizing the small world of wristwatches with his Swatch. The man thinks big and wants to build a jalopy that borrow the same strategy MANUFACTURING that its watches but, careful, he does not want to go it alone in this adventure. Volkswagen denies its proposed small car city. December 3, 1992, he came into contact with the President of Mercedes-Benz AG, Werner Niefer.
On 3 January 1993, Nicolas Hayek presented his vision of the MCC, the Swatchmobile, a car he desires electric. Already, however, it is established that the cost of producing a car endowed such an engine would be too high. This does not prevent Niefer to declare, at the Geneva Auto Salon 1993, the small car become reality.
First public release and strife
The following year, again in March, the cutting and the convertible are presented to the public. The first receives an electric motor while the latter is entitled to a three-cylinder gasoline. The month after, the association between Daimler-Benz and SMH (Swiss Corporation for Microelectronics and Watchmaking Industries Ltd) is confirmed. Daimler-Benz holds 51% of MCC shares (GmbH MCC) against 49% for SMH. Dissension between Hayek and Mercedes are quick to surface. While Hayek desire a small electric car with bright colors, the German brand has advocated a gasoline or diesel engine and security.
The name Smart
It is established that the first car that will come as a result of the union of the two partners will be the Eco Sprinter, known previously under the name of CMC. The name smart is located roughly in that period. In fact, it’s Swatch Mercedes Art: SMART. This is actually a clever pun as smart, in English, means intelligent.
Hayek holds even when the electric motor is made and develop its own version. Then he invited the dignitaries Mercedes attend a demonstration. Unfortunately for him, the demonstration does not work as expected, which confirms Mercedes in his choice of a motor petrol or diesel, which further widens the gap between the two sides.
Although Hayek has less and less influence in terms of decisions, he remains one of the leaders of innovative methods of production of the smart. In December 1994, it is decided that the production of the small car will be in a new plant in Hambach-Sarreguemines in Lorraine in France.
In April 1995, the design of future smart is stopped and will not change before the official production start.
Hayek goes and smart born
The construction of the plant and production of the car require capital injections that go beyond the financial resources of Hayek. In February 1997, it agreed to sell its remaining shares in MCC GmbH and he withdrew from the project.
The production version of the smart is officially presented at the IAA in September 1997. Then, on 27 October, the first smart leaves the assembly line. The rest is history.
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