Marketing Smart has been a challenge for Daimler since its launch as an automotive brand 15 years ago. Originally a joint venture with the Swatch Group--known for fashionable, affordable watches--Smart has been Daimler's alone since Swatch sold its share back to Daimler in 1998.
Targeting hip urban drivers, Smart offers small, fun-to-drive cars that can navigate narrow city streets and fit into tight parking spaces. Daimler tried an upmarket stretch by adding larger and sportier Smart models over the years, but tepid sales forced the firm to refocus on its core two-seater vehicles.
Now Smart is about to introduce an electric scooter and an electric bike under the Smart brand, reinforcing the 'urban' brand image and adding associations with sustainability and affordability. With two-wheeled vehicles, Damiler may be able to reignite buzz and expand the target market to younger drivers who don't yet own cars.