It started in the early 70’s, when Johann Tomforde, a Mercedes-Benz engineer, was tapped to explore the idea of a city car. By the early 90’s the company was confident enough to begin the design phase, so they put together a team of young designers from Pasadena who were used to the limitations of urban mobility.
Who used what cars, and for what purpose? What was particularly cumbersome for drivers? How could the driving experience be improved?
At the same time that Mercedes-Benz was exploring their city car concepts, Swatch had been designing one of their own, but they lacked the resources of a traditional carmaker. This brought them to Mercedes-Benz, who was ready to run with the idea.
Just over 8 feet long, and about 5 feet wide, the first smart was extremely compact and highly innovative, radically breaking with the automotive conventions of the time. The engine was fitted in the rear section, and the Tridion Safety Cell was created to give it a high level of stability and safety that would rival more traditional sedans.
Over the years, the smart has evolved, with the latest edition coming in the form of the all-new smart fortwo. For our design team in Germany, making the smart spacious and powerful, while staying true to the smart identity was paramount.
It led to new hidden compartments where drivers can store their wallets, glasses, and cell phones. It inspires us day-in and day-out to develop creative solutions for our drivers. Because when we’re designing the smart, every centimeter counts.
From the original smart to the latest smart fortwo, each smart has been focused on improving our lives, increasing efficiency, acknowledging society’s limitations and getting around them, time and again.