DETROIT -- DaimlerAG's Smart subsidiary, which is seeing its car sales decline, will decide by the summer whether to expand its lineup by launching an electric motorcycle and an electric scooter, the unit's boss, Annette Winkler, said.
"We want to reach a decision within the next six months. The question is whether the business case is positive," Winkler told Automotive News Europe on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show. Winkler said the business case currently is looking positive.
Smart is talking with potential production partners, but Winkler declined to disclose names of motorcycle makers with which Smart is negotiating. Smart unveiled concepts for the two-wheelers at the Paris auto show in October 2010.
This year, Smart forecasts sales of more than 90,000 units, compared with 97,500 in 2010 and about 134,000 in 2008. Its biggest markets were Germany, Italy, the UK, France and the United States. Last year, U.S. sales decreased to 5,930, compared with 24,000 in 2008, the year that the one-car brand launched sales in the country.
The successor to the current Smart ForTwo two-seat minicar will go on sale at the end of 2013 at the earliest. A four-seat Smart will follow in 2014 and will help boost sales.
Until then, Smart's only innovation will be a full-electric ForTwo, which will launch in 2012 with forecast sales of 10,000. Winkler said electric Smart sales could be combined with offers, such as the possibility to rent a larger car on a short-term basis.
Winkler also hopes to win new customers by selling individualized ForTwo models.