New Smart compact electric SUV will roll off new Chinese production line next year – the first Smart to be born of new Daimler-Geely tie-up
Smart has confirmed that it plans to launch its first SUV in 2022, using a new electric platform developed by Chinese giant Geely.
It’s the first major Smart product announcement since Mercedes parent company Daimer and Volvo owner Geely established a new global joint venture for the Smart brand in early 2020.
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According to a blog post on networking site Linkedin from Smart Vice President of Global Sales, Daniel Lescow, the new model won’t see the firm abandon its compact principles – it will be “instantly recognisable” as a Smart, with “super-compact” exterior dimensions combining with clever use of interior space.
It will be designed by Mercedes-Benz with the engineering and development work taken care of by Geely. It will be built in China with the Chinese market in mind, but Lescow promises that the car will be coming to European markets too, with five-star Euro NCAP safety scores targeted.
While it will remain a compact vehicle it’s likely to move up a size from the city-car footprints the brand is known for, becoming the Smart brand’s first B-segment vehicle since the first-generation ForFour supermini. Last January, the new Daimler-Geely joint venture Smart marque confirmed that it would look to move into the B-segment market with a focus on “ premium electric vehicles.” As such, the new Smart electric SUV would shape up as a rival for the Peugeot e-2008 and DS 3 Crossback E-Tense.
It will be built on a brand new Geely developed platform called Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA), which will underpin all next-generation Smarts and numerous models from Geely’s eight other road car brands. It shares elements of its design with the well known CMA platform underpinning the Volvo XC40 and Polestar 2.
Geely describes the SEA platform as being highly-scalable and claims that it is suitable for vehicles ranging from A-segment city cars to large E-segment saloons. A light commercial vehicle variant of the platform with all-wheel-drive is also being developed.
Key specifications have not been revealed, but in its largest and most advanced form the SEA platform will support electric cars capable of over 435 miles on a single charge, with over-the-air updates and next-generation autonomous driver assistance technologies promised.
Given the likely B-segment footprint of the Smart, the underfloor battery capacity will be limited, so a range anywhere near the 435 mile maximum touted for the platform seems unlikely. Instead, range around the 200 mile ballpark would keep it competitive with PSA’s e-CMP platformed compact EVs. If Smart was to target the technical capability of the Hyundai Kona Electric, a range nearer 300 miles would be necessary.
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