Smart USA intends to launch a four-door hatchback on the U.S. market within the next 15 months. The company made the announcement in Detroit yesterday.
Smart USA president Jill Lajdziak said in a statement: “The new vehicle will expand Smart’s product lineup, offering five seat capacity while maintaining the core principles of efficiency and conservation.”
“There were a lot of customer requests to offer a little bit larger vehicle,” Lajdziak told Reuters. “We’re meeting the needs for what the consumer asked.”
The Smart hatchback will give dealers a larger vehicle to sell than the Daimler-made Fortwo microcar, which has struggled for two years after a brisk start when it was introduced to the U.S. market in 2008 amid rising gasoline prices.
Through September, U.S. sales of the fortwo were down 61.5 percent in 2010 to 4,779 vehicles from the first nine months of 2009. The new car will be built on a new global platform in one of Nissan’s manufacturing plants in the United States, Smart USA spokesman Rick Bourgoise said.