Daimler has announced plans to phase out gasoline engines for its North American Smart Car line at the end of this year and offer electric options only as of 2018.
“Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio,” wrote Dietmar Exler, head of Mercedes-Benz USA, in a mid-February letter to dealers. “A dedicated focus on the electric drive in the U.S. and Canada provides a logical step to support a sustainable, zero-emissions future.”
Daimler’s Smart Car sales in the U.S. were down to 6,211 vehicles last year, a 16% drop from 2015 and far below their 2008 high of 24,622, 30% of them electric.
“As the U.S. slowly warms to EVs, this could provide Smart with an important toehold in that emerging market,” Engadget reports. “Questions remain, however, as to whether Smart’s vehicles will ever really gain traction outside of cities or as secondary runabouts.”