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Auto China 2008: smart fortwo to be launched in China in mid 2009
The smart fortwo will also be available to Chinese customers from mid 2009. This was announced by Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, at the Auto China Beijing 2008 (22 - 28 April 2008). This means that smart is now set to open up another major automobile market, following the successful launch in the USA. Daimler AG expects additional sales potential for the brand in China as the small car is practically tailor-made for the increasing number of small car customers on the Chinese market: The smart fortwo combines modern technology, premium quality and safety, exemplary low fuel consumption and corresponding low CO2 emissions with a unique space concept that offers advantages in the dense traffic of China’s numerous large cities.
At the Auto ChinaDr. Dieter Zetsche said: "In China, too, we are seeing growing customer interest in our high-quality and economical smart fortwo. I am sure that many lifestyle-oriented customers in China's cities will soon come to love its unique concept. For in addition to its outstanding safety equipment and the typical smart design, the fortwo naturally also boasts top quality and reliability." The agile two-seater is currently available in 37 countries. Since the intro-duction of the first model generation in 1998 more than 870,000 smart fortwos have been delivered to customers.
smart is launching the fortwo - the "original" smart - on the Chinese growth market
Chinais the world's fastest-growing automobile market and is now the second largest vehicle market: Seven million new driving licences are issued each year in the People's Republic. Another Chinese city attains the size of New Yorkevery ten months. Market observers are currently registering strong growth of the micro car and small car segment in China. These are the best prerequisites for an innovative, low-consumption vehicle like the smart fortwo that is designed for urban lifestyles. In China, too, environmental awareness is greatly increasing. Furthermore, Chinese customers don’t regard their car as a merely functional means of transport. Rather, they increasingly see their cars as a means of expressing their personality. Fashion-conscious young people in particular seek an agile, trendy vehicle for their flexible urban lifestyle in order to set themselves apart from others.
Against the background of these developments Mercedes-Benz Cars decided to launch the "original" two-seater smart fortwo on the Chinese market in mid 2009. The smart fortwo meets the same high standards which apply to larger vehicles from Mercedes-Benz cars. These include top quality and reliability, outstanding safety and economical and environmentally friendly driving combined with comfort and agility. Moreover, the "original" is loved first and foremost for its innovative design with which the brand trod a new, different path and achieved worldwide cult status for the fortwo.
As one of the youngest car makes on the market, smart stands for innovation, functionality and joie de vivre. smart especially appeals to customers who are interested in new, clever and trend-setting solutions in the automotive sector. Drivers of smart cars can be categorized more in terms of their attitude than their age, profession or gender. smart drivers are open-minded, self-aware individuals who question the status quo. They opt for the smart fortwo because it is something special and perhaps also because it sets them apart from the masses. But certainly because it is quite simply fun to drive.
The smart fortwo - a 10-year success story
At the beginning of the 1990s, research showed that each car journey carried an average of only 1.2 people. Anyone who ventures a look into other cars while stuck at traffic lights in rush-hour traffic will be able to confirm this. And that's not all: in cities, cars are driven for fewer than 30 kilometres per day. 90 percent of the time, a car is parked somewhere. As well as this, half the driving time is actually spent circling around looking for a parking space. This is why there was a clear need for a car designed specifically for use in urban areas; a car that uses far less road space and is less than three metres long.
As early as 1972 the concept for an ultra-compact car with a length of two and a half metres was developed by Mercedes-Benz. However, technical implementation was not possible at that time due to an inability to meet the company's strict safety standards.
In 1989 Nicolas G. Hayek, the inventor of the Swatch watch, announced plans to launch a small city car on the market. Hayek sought an experienced partner for the quick and successful realisation of the project. The joint venture that was established in 1994 combined the creative power of Swatch with Mercedes-Benz’s vast experience in building cars. The cooperation resulted in a unique vehicle concept and a new automobile brand: smart.
Three years after work developing the vehicle began in 1994, the smart fortwo made its world debut at the International Motor Show in Frankfurtin 1997. Production began in July 1998 in a new plant in Hambach, France. The following October saw the new car being sold for the first time in nine European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spainand Switzerland). In the same year, smart became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler-Benz AG (now Daimler AG).