Smart has revealed a series of sketches depicting a compact, zero-emissions pickup concept that will make its public debut at next month's Detroit auto show.
Called the Forus, a name chosen to indicate its suitability for the pickup-loving U.S. market, the electric-powered, two-seater was conceived as part of plans to extend the scope of the Smart lineup.
It's unclear if the vehicle will be produced.
Smart's U.S. sales have dropped 16 percent to 4,498 units this year through November in an overall light vehicle market that has climbed 10 percent.
Employing styling cues established on the smaller Smart Forvision concept revealed in September at the Frankfurt motor show, the Forus uses an electrically powered cargo tray that extends by 11 inches at the rear to ease loading.
Traditional Smart elements include largely unadorned body panels and a two-tone color scheme. There's also a break from the brand's tradition, with borderline rugged elements to play up the pickup demeanor.
Inside, there is a basic layout with a 35.4-inch long cargo tray with an integrated docking station. It will be used on the concept car bound for Detroit to provide electrical energy to two Smart e-bikes.
At 139.7 inches in length, 59.3 inches in width and 66.0 inches in height, the Forus is substantially longer and higher than the existing Fortwo.
It also rides on a wheelbase that was extended by 24.1 inches over that of Smart's signature two-seat city car at 97.6 inches, while the tracks were pushed out by two inches both front and rear, at 52.6 inches and 56.5 inches, respectively.
Although Smart won't confirm it, various styling elements along with the basic dimensions and newly developed platform of the Forus are said to mirror those of the upcoming second-generation Forfour, which is being developed in partnership with Renault.
The French carmaker will use the same platform as that planned for the Forfour to underpin its third-generation Twingo.
Secrecy surrounds where the platform will originate, but sources close to Smart parent company Mercedes-Benz suggest that it will be a development of the so-called A-platform found underneath the second-generation Twingo.
Both cars will be produced in an existing Renault factory in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, beginning in 2014.
Power for the new Smart concept comes from the same plug-in electric system used on the Smart Fortwo electric drive on sale in Europe.
It uses a brushless electric motor mounted at the rear that produces 74 hp and 96 lb-ft of torque together with a 17.7-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery that is charged via standard-mains electricity and on the run with energy recuperated during periods of trailing throttle and braking.