Smart, the Daimler-owned brand operated in the United States by Roger Penske's Penske Automotive Group, will add this five-door model to its American lineup within the next 15 months. The new Forfour will only be available in the U.S.
Smart has not offered a five-door model since 2007 when the company's original Forfour was discontinued in Europe. The new U.S. model is a stopgap for that market until an all-new Forfour arrives in 2014.
The new hatchback is the first major product collaboration to emerge from Daimler's collaboration with Renault-Nissan. Smart USA has confirmed the five-door supermini will be based on Nissan's model versatile new V-platform, which also underpins the new Micra and will spawn additional sedan and MPV models.
Smart first launched in the U.S. with its Fortwo in 2008 and, after promising initial sales, interest in the novel city car has waned. Sales from January to September have fallen 62 percent from last year's level to 4,779 units. Dealers and customers have been pushing “for a larger, but Smart-typical car to be fulfilled very soon,” and the Nissan tie-up has opened up the opportunity for a larger Smart to be fast-tracked to market.
Roger Penske believes the new car “will fit in well with the Smart brand,” despite its Nissan roots.
“We are faced with continuing customer demand for a Smart car with more seating capacity,” said Penske Automotive Group's chairman, without revealing any specific details on the new model. An official statement said more details on the model "will be announced at a later date."
Daimler is currently developing a modular rear-engined, rear-drive platform for the next-generation of Smart cars and it will first spawn a new Fortwo in 2012. Two years later, a lengthened version of that platform will be used to underpin an all-new Forfour, as well as the next Renault Twingo.