Much of the time in America, when you see a Smart Fortwo zipping around your city, it’s in the blue-and-white livery of Car2Go. The Daimler-owned car-sharing service has been around in this country since 2010, and it’s long relied solely on the tiny Smart and their ease of parking as a selling point for city drivers who maybe don’t want to own a car. Perhaps somewhat sadly, the days of the blue-and-white Smarts are coming to an eventual end.
While an all-new Smart Fortwo launched in 2015 and quickly made its way into Car2Go fleets as well as private owners, months ago Mercedes-Benz announced that the Fortwo would be going fully electric only in America. All new Smart Fortwos in the U.S. will soon do away with the rear-mounted gas engine in favor of batteries with a 60 mile range.
That does not mean Car2Go is transitioning to become an electric fleet to keep up. Rather, the company says it’s beginning the process of moving off Smarts altogether, shifting instead to Mercedes CLA sedans and GLA small crossovers.
In other words, Car2Go’s about to get bigger and its cars more normal. While the new Smarts are sticking around for a while, and replacing the older “451” Smarts of years past, the future of the ride-sharing service is Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The company has been announcing this to customers over the past few months.
“We’d love to continue to offer a smart or similar size vehicle again if and when that becomes an option once more,” a Car2Go spokesman told Jalopnik.”And again, we’ve got a lot of new-gen Fortwos in NYC, DC, Montreal, Toronto, Columbus and Vancouver that will be in service for quite a while. While no other car is as nimble at fitting into tiny city street parking spaces as the Smart, both the CLA and GLA are compact cars. GLA is about a foot shorter than a CLA.”
It’s also kind of a shame because it reflects the lack how the U.S. lags behind other countries in charging infrastructure.
“Car2Go does operate three successful EV fleets in Europe (Amsterdam, Madrid, and Stuttgart) but they’re successful because those cities have infrastructure necessary to operate EV carshare at scale,” the official said. “We believe that electric is the future, and when conditions evolve in North American cities we’d be glad to revisit EV carshare in the U.S. and Canada.
Like I said, it’s a bit sad to see to see the famous blue-and-white Smarts start to fade from our streets. But the charging network isn’t there, and it’s kind of easy to see the GLA and CLA having much wider appeal to car-sharing customers. I’ve often heard prospective customers say they were put off by the Smart’s tiny size, and let’s face it, the previous generation was pretty abysmal to drive. In addition, the Benzes are both relatively small and come with backup cameras, so they can do city car duty more or less fine.
In addition, one of the Smart Fortwo’s main selling points in some European countries was perpendicular parking—it could be backed up so it’s facing the street, not parallel to the curb. That seldom seemed to ever fly in the U.S., so the car was just never quite as practical here as it was in its home market.
So farewell, little blue and white Smarts. May you all end up in a budget spec racing series someday.