Daimler AG has for years fought to implement and make a profit out of its mini car brand Smart and with the launch of a new generation of its core model, the objective seems to finally be within reach.
But for that, Smart needs the help of the largest auto market in the world – China. No problem, that’s also covered, at least in the near future – according to Smart chief executive Annette Winkler. She considers China could within just a few years, become the unit’s largest market, taking over from European countries such as Germany and Italy. “Many people doubted that Smart could be a success here, because normally, luxury, premium cars in China is about big cars,” said Winkler, talking to media representatives on the sidelines of an event in Shanghai, where Smart is celebrating half a decade of local existence.
The top Smart official says that even though the turnover won’t be possible in 2014, already some of the months of the year showed China is the top world market for Smart. The premium market, currently dominated mainly by the German trio – Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz – has shown signs of slowing down, but the segments below the compact level still grow strong.