These days, I discovered a new car that can be called the “strongest internet sensation ever”: smart fortwo #1.
Why do I say that? You will understand it by posting a Weibo with its name. If you mention smart fortwo #1 at the beginning and end of a Weibo post, most of the text in the post will automatically be highlighted.
As for the reason, friends who know how to use Weibo might have already realized it. The Weibo format stipulates that using two “#” symbols in the content of a Weibo can turn the text between them into a “topic,” which will be displayed in highlighted state.
The “#” symbol in the name of smart fortwo #1 just satisfies this format requirement. This is a fun easter egg.
Speaking of fun, this attribute has been imbued in the smart brand since its inception.
From Compact to Electric
After World War II, urbanization and industrialization in Europe developed rapidly. By the 1980s, the annual automobile production in Europe had surpassed 15 million vehicles. At that time, the elites living in the city found that the urban roads were increasingly congested. Even finding a parking space for work every day became a luxury.
In view of this, someone asked, why not develop a high-quality small car that is nimble and easy to park?
So, in the summer of 1981, a two-seater small car like an elf appeared on the Mercedes-Benz test site. And it was the prototype of the smart that we are familiar with today.
This little story above tells us that the smart brand was born from the development of urbanization. And the development of urbanization is still ongoing to this day in 2022.
Environmental issues are currently one of the major challenges facing our cities. Whether it is the increasingly strict emission control regulations of various governments or the constantly advancing timetable for the prohibition of fuel vehicles, electrification is the best choice for major brands.
At the same time, consumers’ ideas about car consumption are also changing. In 2021, in China alone, 2.916 million pure electric vehicles were sold, a year-on-year increase of 161.5%. The data tells us that more users are starting to choose and trust pure electric vehicles.
Therefore, the new generation of pure electric car models from smart, the smart fortwo #1, is here.
Officially, smart fortwo #1 has not been officially released yet, so we can only search for some clues of the new car from the heavily disguised spy photos.
The first thing that can be confirmed is that the new car adopts a four-door layout.
Keen-eyed readers may notice that the gull-wing doors on the smart concept car #1 seem to have been scrapped.
This brings us to the difference between concept cars and production cars. Concept cars focus more on conveying design concepts, while production cars need to meet regulatory and practical production requirements.
Returning to the smart concept car #1, the gull-wing door design is cool, but the design without a B-pillar would reduce the strength and rigidity of the body to some extent. The production version adopts the traditional door design, and the presence of the B-pillar can provide better performance for the body frame, thereby ensuring better collision safety. When faced with the choice between “safety” and “coolness”, I lean more towards safety. After all, safety is what allows me to go further.
In daily use, gull-wing doors are not the best choice. The design requires a larger opening space, and finding a parking space with ample space on both sides is a very luxurious thing in a city where parking spaces are limited. Within limited space, gull-wing doors are difficult to provide passengers with a comfortable boarding and exiting stance.
At the same time, there must be someone complaining, “Four doors are not smart.”
But in fact, as mentioned earlier, if you understand the process of the smart brand’s birth, you would never have such an idea.
“A trip that can be taken at any time” is the most beautiful longing in the hearts of every young person. And if you want to go further, you must have a car with enough space to hold all your luggage.
As we get older, life will burden us with more worries, so we need a car with a large space to carry these “things that cannot be left behind.”
In short, whether it’s for younger or older people, we always greedily want a car that is small enough and easy to drive, yet also has more space. And isn’t meeting user needs and keeping pace with the times the meaning of the smart brand since its inception?
With the help of the global design team of Mercedes-Benz and the flexible space layout of the pure electric platform, it seems that a better solution has been found for the contradictory demand above.
Based on the previously round and cute family-style design of smart, the Mercedes design team has used a “sensuous and agile” design philosophy to give the smart concept car #1 a more elegant and streamlined body design.If the body design embodies the elegant and luxurious style of smart, then the headlights add a touch of playfulness to its personality. The light strip that spans across the front of the car connects the two headlights, looking both like a flat and cute “X” and a mischievous wink.
In addition, the hidden door handles, the layered lines extending from the A-pillar to the C-pillar, and the smart logo adding the finishing touch on the C-pillar… Every detail is meticulously designed to tell us that, despite the fact that this new car has grown in size to meet the demand for more space, it is still an exquisite and unique small car, just like its predecessors.
Both Inside and Outside Exude New Luxury
If this were an ordinary small car from any other brand, my exploration of it would probably stop here. However, its Mercedes-Benz heritage sets my expectations much higher, especially for its interior.
Because no official images of the interior have been released, I found some clues during my interview with the interior designer.
From the designer’s sketch, we can see that the interior of the smart concept #1 will adopt a floating design, with plenty of bright and clean lines creating a sense of simplicity and lightness, consistent with the “new luxury” style that smart has always been promoting.
The floating design also brings more storage space. Even in the sketch, we can see that the designer reserved a storage compartment below the central island. More details about the interior seem to only be revealed from official releases.
If the interior represents the tangible “new luxury” of the car, then the technological configurations are the intangible “new luxury” that smart concept #1 offers.
The UI designer of the new car revealed that it will be equipped with a virtual voice assistant named Avatar, a geometric line-drawing style little fox who is the soul of the vehicle system. It can transform into the user’s driving coach, self-driving guide, and even learn more scenarios based on user habits to achieve greater possibilities.
“In the future, what kind of personality a car has should be defined by users, not us as car designers,” said the UI designer.The following is the English Markdown text with HTML tags, translated from the Chinese Markdown text, which preserves the original layout:
This sentence is from the original words of a UI designer. I think it is the best interpretation of the “New Luxury” style for smart elf #1.
Seeing this point, although we still haven’t seen the full picture of smart elf #1, we have already begun to imagine the rough outline of smart elf #1 in our minds – this is a small car that can meet our space needs, exquisite, and full of new luxury style. And how much do you think such an exquisite and luxurious small car will cost in your heart?
Combined with its size, exquisite luxury, and its positioning against competitors – such as the Tesla Model 3 starting at 290,000 RMB and the MINI COUNTRYMAN starting at 250,000 RMB, I guess that the smart elf #1’s price range will be between 250,000 and 300,000 RMB.
For the smart brand, I am always willing to give it the highest expectations. This unconditional trust comes from a news story many years ago.
NBA star O’Neal also owns a smart car. When he, who is 2.16 meters tall and weighs 300 pounds, gets into the 2.7-meter-long and 1.5-meter-high car and drives away elegantly, the strong contrast between such great and smallness made me realize, what is impossible?
I am looking forward to what other surprises and possibilities smart elf #1 can bring. And the new possibilities will be announced at the global premiere in Berlin, Germany on April 7th.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.