Mark’s Auto Service maintains and repairs just about every vehicle make and model, including Smart cars. These little wonders aren’t exactly clogging the Illinois roads, but those who drive them love them. We think these vehicles are great, and for the most part, they are safe and reliable. Let’s talk about Smart cars. We’ve got some facts you might not have known about these real-life Tonka toys.
Mercedes-Benz began selling Smart cars in the United States in 2008. They are considered an off-shoot of the Mercedes brand, and German parent company Daimler AG manufactures both Smart cars and Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Smart cars are popular in Europe, but they did not take off in the U.S. Mercedes announced in 2019 that it would no longer sell Smart cars in North America.
A Watch Inspired a Car
Swatch was a trendy watch brand in the United States in the 1980s. Originating from Switzerland, people could not get enough Swatch watches because they were fun and personalized. Inspired by the watch’s success, Swatch CEO Nicolas Hayek decided to design a “Swatchmobile” in 1982, and Volkswagen jumped on board nine years later in 1991.
It Didn’t Last
The project didn’t stand a chance. Volkswagen pulled out of the deal in 1993, and Hayek was left to approach other European automobile manufacturers. Mercedes-Benz was the only one to bite, and the name Smart reflects the two companies. The partnership was dubbed “Swatch Mercedes ART,” or Smart. And, the C/arrow logo stands for “compact,” “cute,” and “forward-thinking.”
France Helps Out, Too
Smart cars are a 100-percent European product. As you know, the design and engineering are done by German automaker Mercedes-Benz and Swiss watchmaker Swatch, and the largest Smart production facility in the world is located in Hambach, France. The facility is state-of-the-art and employs 2,000 people who put together the 8.5-foot-by-5.5-foot automobiles. Yep, they’re that small.
Smart cars are freakishly economical and, much to everyone’s surprise, roomy inside despite their Tonka-toy appearance. On average, a full tank of gas in the Smart car’s 8.5-gallon tank will get you 40 miles-per-gallon in fuel efficiency. A Smart car can go about 350 miles between refills, which makes it fun and economical. It’s a great little car for those who want to save money on gas.