FRANKFURT -- The electric version of the redesigned Smart ForTwo will go on sale in the U.S. at the end of 2016.
It will arrive at least a year after gasoline-powered versions of the redesigned ForTwo, which went on sale in September. But because electric drive has been such a strong seller for Smart, it will be worth the wait, said Annette Winkler, global head of the Smart brand.
"That's very important for us," Winkler said. "Last year in the U.S., 25 percent of Smarts were electric. That's high."
Winkler wouldn't predict volume for the next-generation electric Smart or whether Smart would be able to maintain that 25 percent level. EV demand depends on government incentives, she said.
"If there is really the willingness of the politicians to further increase green driving and if there will come additional support, the demand will increase," Winkler said. "Full electric drive is perfect for the city."
Either way, Smart is "fully flexible" in the factory, producing gasoline and electric cars on the same line, she said. That flexibility is important because "it's difficult to say how this segment will evolve," she said.
The next-generation electric Smart will be powered by electric motors from Renault through a partnership of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Smart parent Daimler AG. The electric motor will be produced at a Renault plant in France, while the battery will be produced by a Daimler unit in Germany.