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Production Version of Smart #5 EV Might Provide Catalyst For U.S. Return

by | June 19, 2024

Smart #5 SUV delivers impressive interior room and could preview Smart’s plan to expand its appeal to a wider dragnet of buyers including EV adopters.

The Smart Concept #5 showed an SUV that was ready for the trail and tech-focused buyers.

When Smart left the U.S. in 2019. the embattled sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz suffered from sliding sales and a microcar lineup that was left in the dust when gas prices went back down and buyers began to shift their focus to bigger SUV and pickup truck models. That’s despite the impressive amount of engineering that went into models like the Fortwo including an advanced Tridion hemispherical safety cell.

The brand has continued to live on in international markets like China and the Smart #5 might preview a possible return to the U.S. market if Smart and Mercedes-Benz choose to give sales here another chance.

Smart #5 is taking brand in a bigger direction

The production version tones down the rugged design but it still has plenty of tools to lure in buyers.

When we last saw the Smart #5 it appeared as a rugged trail-ready concept at the Beijing Auto Show that came with a laundry list of trail-ready equipment and was supposed to be a fun EV for adventures in the backwoods. A recent reveal of the production version by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MITT) which was later picked up by the publication Autocar confirms that while the production version will tone down some of its rugged cues, the #5 will still be an interesting EV offering when it eventually makes its way into production.

The exterior styling of the production version retains the square-shaped profile but the MIIT report confirms that the model will be the biggest model the brand will offer with the SUV being listed as 185.2 inches in length which is 10 inches longer than the Mini Countryman and is also bigger than the Smart #3 which is currently the largest model that Smart offers in international markets. This size would also put the Smart in contention with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 SUV which has emerged as a top contender in the EV segment.

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Could the Smart #5 be a key ingredient in potential U.S. return?

The Smart #5 has some core ingredients that appeal to U.S. buyers which might make Smart try again in our market.

Smart has made it clear in the past that the brand is not returning to the U.S. anytime soon, but the Smart #5 might be the key catalyst that could facilitate a future return to the U.S. market if the brand chooses to do so. American buyers have a strong appetite for SUV models and the #5’s size would allow it to have generous amounts of room in the second row while also offering equally impressive amounts of cargo room when the seats are folded down. The concept also previewed an impressive amount of tech features and a growing number of younger buyers are placing these kinds of features higher on their priority list of items that they are looking for in an EV

The larger wheelbase could also be needed to hold a bigger battery pack. This theory has credence since the Smart is built on the same Geely SEA platform as the Volvo EX30 and the Polestar 4 with the Polestar being equipped with a 100 kWh battery pack. In the case of the Smart, two of these battery packs would be used with higher trim levels getting a lithium-ion battery pack that powers a dual-motor setup that produces a potential combined system output of 637 hp in the range-topping #5 but it’s important to note that the report lists horsepower for the individual motors only so the combined figure might vary.

A second dual-motor setup is listed as producing 575 hp while the single-motor models produce 358 and 338 hp respectively. These models swap out the lithium-ion pack for a less expensive and less powerful lithium-iron-phosphate battery pack. If the model does facilitate a U.S. comeback, Smart will have its work cut out in re-establishing brand loyalty and trust in the eyes of U.S. customers with the brand’s long absence causing many buyers to forget about it. The #5 would also face a potent pool of rivals in the market with nearly all of them having plenty of time to build consumer loyalty which is key in creating return customers that will go for other EV models.


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