Editor's note: An earlier headline and lead sentence on this story gave inaccurate information about Smart's finances. The brand has been profitable since 2010 and has remained profitable.
BRESCIA, Italy -- Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche believes the all-new Smart ForFour minicar will be commercially successful and should help the brand further strengthen its balance sheet.
“The new ForFour is an extended ForTwo and has all the characteristics of the new ForTwo. These include a wider interior relative to the length of the car, a rear-mounted engine and several very smart ideas of benefit to customers. So the new vehicle has all the genes of a Smart,” Zetsche said after a media event here.
Daimler includes Smart in its Mercedes-Benz Cars division and does not disclose separate financial data for its minicar brand. In a separate interview with Automotive News Europe, Annette Winkler, who heads the Smart brand, said: "at least since 2010, Smart has contributed positively to the results of Mercedes-Benz Cars."
Smart has remained profitable since then, Daimler officials confirmed.
Launched in 1997, the Smart ForTwo quickly created a niche for itself as the only two-seat microcar, commanding premium prices in the process.
The original ForFour was not as successful. Launched in 2004, the ForFour competed in the ultra-competitive subcompact segment. Production of the ForFour, which was only available in Europe, ceased in June 2006 with just 133,000 sold.