On November 17th, at the Guangzhou Auto Show, not only did Smart showcase its entire line-up, it also made a first-time announcement of its venture into proprietary charging network and planned releases of two new models for brand new market segments in the next two years.
Moreover, in terms of autonomous driving, Smart Pilot Assist 3.0 fitted with a LiDAR and offering urban pilot assistance capabilities is set to launch by the end of next year.
In the wake of the aggressive growth of new energy vehicle market, Smart is actively exploring new developmental possibilities to revitalise itself. Zhang Mingxia, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and After-sales at Smart, stated:
2023 marks the 25th anniversary of the Smart brand. Over these 25 years, Smart, with courage to put inspiration into action, has already become a socio-cultural symbol of urban transportation. In face of intense market competition and a complex, diverse world, mere sentimentality is insufficient. Do not underestimate Smart, as we will commence the next 25 years of Smart with our brand, corporate and R&D strengths on a global scale.
As Smart’s past and present 25 years intersect, the automobile market too is in a transformative period. In this transition, while Smart maintains steadfastness, it also discards certain aspects. During an interview on the day of the auto show, Zhang Mingxia shared her thoughts.
The rest of the interview follows, edited but true to the original meaning.
What is Smart’s perspective on price wars?
Regarding price wars, Smart hasn’t made any overly aggressive or proactive price adjustments, which can potentially exert significant pressure on the operational team, but I must admit, the hardest part of strategy is choosing what not to do.
Price wars essentially embody ‘the survival of the fittest’, the notion of ‘fit’ can be elaborated from two perspectives:
- Adapting to the trends. ‘Trends’ here refer to broad industry rules rather than short-term actions.
- Suitability to oneself. Smart strives to craft brand-orientated offerings. Given limited resources, I would place greater emphasis on customer relations and brand building as these would uplift the longevity of the Smart brand.Furthermore, there are two immutable facts in the automotive industry, one is that technology drives innovation, and the other is the emphasis on scale.
Technically, the smart Pilot Assist 2.0 is equipped with the latest HWP high-speed navigation auxiliary feature and NSP Intelligent Navigation Aid functionality, which not only allows for high-speed, high-altitude, point-to-point intelligent navigation but also supports intelligent lane changes, automatic ramp entry and exits, and automatic following in curves. The actual experience approximates human driving, our intelligent assisted driving technology is top-notch in the industry.
In terms of the cockpit, smart will employ the industry’s most powerful AMD V2000 chipset. It boasts a CPU calculating power up to 394K DMIPS, double the computational capabilities of 8295 chips, providing a dominant advantage.
In terms of scale, smart is focused on increasing its share in segmented markets. Specifically, smart has already launched in 7 European countries. Besides China and Europe, smart is expanding southwards and westwards, with the official launch in Malaysia next week. Furthermore, accelerated plans are underway in locations such as Singapore, the Middle East, and the Australian-New Zealand market.
What measures will smart take to sharpen its brand tone in the Chinese market?
First, smart will collaborate with brands that resonate with our brand tone and values, which we term as the ‘smart lifestyle’.
Second, we will engage in co-creation with our users, with upcoming plans revolving around pets and arts among others.
What standard will smartcare strive to achieve?
smartcare aims to strike a suitable balance. It’s about making everyday tasks enjoyable in a smart manner, such as winter maintenance, charging up the car, and so on. Going forward, smart will arrange various smartcare benefits or plans for our close friends nationwide on their journeys, so stay tuned.
Will smartcare invest in overseas markets?
Yes, but we have a staged approach to the advancement of our business.
When it comes to smartcare, we first focus on brand and product promotion. Once we have acquired leads, customers, orders, and deliveries, things will naturally fall into place.
Additionally, the promotion of smartcare in different markets is something we need to carefully strategize, as in the European market, we use Benz showrooms for Benz products and after-sales services. Therefore, achieving good local integration is a must.
In China, due to the fully new and independent network, smartcare is set to make its mark, and its content might vary in accordance with different local conditions.
In the next few years, will there be any breakthroughs in design, or any new collaborations to maintain its leading position in the design field?
Primarily for design, we are certain to use Mercedes-Benz’s global design team for smart 1 and 3. Thus, the entire design language, including our subsequent third and fourth car, inherits the design elements of Benz.We’ve been collaborating with Brabus for 23 years, and next year we’ll unleash some eye-catching designs. At the same time, a co-branded model with our spokesperson, Liu Xianhua, is also anticipated next year. Hence, the emphasis for Smart in the coming year is on consistent adoption of the Mercedes-Benz overall design, high performance version by Brabus, and boasting Smart’s uniqueness in design through cross-industry collaboration.
What’s your perspective on the proportion between overseas and domestic markets in the upcoming years?
If we consider product planning and product life cycle, Central Europe and China have roughly the same proportion. However, in the Chinese market, we refer to the base, particularly in the new energy sector, the Chinese base must be stabilized.
From the interview above, though the torrents of changes surge forth one after another, creating a certain level of chaos in the new energy vehicle market, Smart has not been swayed by the turbulent tide of changes.
On the contrary, emanating from its brand tone, Smart steadfastly holds its ground, maintaining a steady strategy and advancing step by step.
Indeed, for a personality-rich brand like Smart, clinging steadfastly to its brand tone and blending well with its users might be the most formidable barrier against market uncertainties.
This article is a translation by AI of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.