smart transforms into an all-electric brand and teases 2023 crossover EV called the smart #1

smart Automobile Co., Ltd. has officially begun its transition into an all-electric automaker by offering the latest taste of its first new EV following parent company Mercedes-Benz AG’s joint venture with Geely Holding. The 2023 crossover EV will be called the smart #1, kicking off the automaker’s new model nomenclature.

Smart Automobile Co., Ltd. is a German automaker founded in the ‘90s known for its “cute” and compact cars perfect for crowded urban centers. The marque operates under parent company Mercedes-Benz AG (fka Daimler AG… fka Daimler-Benz) serves nearly 50 automotive markets around the globe, although it abandoned sales in the US and Canada following its 2019 models.

In 2019, smart’s parent company announced a joint venture with Geely Holding Group to produce smart badged cars in China as well. That same year, smart began a drastic transition to electrification by dropping combustion engines for electric powertrains only.

In early 2020, Mercedes-Benz shared news that under its the new JV structure, the upcoming generation of smart vehicles will be designed by “the worldwide Mercedes-Benz Design network and developed by the Geely global engineering network.”

Since then, smart Automobile Co. has been teasing the first of its next generation of EVs with its Concept #1, which was unveiled at IAA Mobility expo in Munich last year. By fall, we learned the smart concept EV was “near production” and will feature a large panoramic glass roof with a ring of light and frameless “suicide” style doors that open in opposite directions.

With its latest announcement, we have an update to the Concept #1’s status including its official name… the smart #1.

smart EV
The smart #1 EV undergoing aerodynamics testing / Source: smart Automobile Co., Ltd.

2023 smart #1 EV completes pre-market testing

smart Automobile offered its latest EV update in a recent press release alongside the nomenclature unveiling for all future models. The release describes smart’s decision to go with the “#” naming system:

With combination of the “#” symbol followed by a number, smart has defined a recognizable family name for its new generation of all-electric vehicles. Now often used to indicate the hottest topics in social media, the “#” symbol is evocative of trendsetting in the digital era – fitting, because ever since its first production car unveiling at IAA in 1997, smart has been striving for innovation and remained a trendsetter in the automotive industry.

According to the automaker, the smart #1 EV recently completed aerodynamics testing as well as proving grounds winter testing in -40 ℃ (-40 ℉) in Northern China. The smart #1 also underwent complex snow and ice road testing at the site. Daniel Lescow, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and After-Sales of smart Automobile Co., Ltd. spoke to the EV’s progress:

As the first product set to launch following the brand’s renewal, the smart #1 perfectly combines electric-drive technology and premium quality. I am convinced that the smart #1 will enthuse future customers in both China and Europe, setting new trends of urban mobility and co-creating powerful brand experiences wherever it will make an appearance.

Following the completion of the aforementioned tests, Mercedes-Benz AG and Geely are confident they can launch a production version of the smart #1 EV later this year.

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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