STUTTGART -- Worldwide production of the Smart ForMore will be centered in Brazil.
DaimlerChrysler will cut back production of the Mercedes-Benz A class at its Brazilian plant during the next 18 months and refurbish the facility to get it ready to start production of the sport-utility. The plant, in Juiz de Fora, northeast of Sao Paulo, produces the Mercedes A class.
The new sport-utility will be introduced in the USA first in early 2006. The car will enter the European market later the same year.
Smart will mainly use European suppliers at the Brazilian plant.
"We only have a small team of engineers," said Helmut Wawra, Smart engineering and design chief, "so it is important suppliers have research and engineering capability in Europe as well as a plant in South America."
The Juiz de Fora plant is capable of producing 60,000 vehicles a year.
The Smart ForMore will almost certainly be launched at the 2006 Detroit auto show.
Launching the car in Detroit is seen as vital to establishing the brand in North America – a market expected to account for 50 percent of the sport-utility's sales
Wawra said D/C is working closely with Japanese partner Mitsubishi to get the sport-utility ready for launch.