Smart Automobiles’ first vehicle as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Geely Automobile will be called the #1, as the urban vehicle specialist works to reboot itself as a China-based company that will also sell in Europe.
The #1 will be launched “later this year,” Smart said Thursday, as part of a lineup of models with the “#” designation. The automaker released camouflage photos of the #1, showing a four-door hatchback with a raised beltline.
Smart has said its first model will be an SUV, although photos released Thursday appear to show a more conventional hatchback or crossover.
The hashtag symbol was chosen because it is “evocative of trendsetting in the digital era,” Smart said.
“As the first product set to launch following the brand’s renewal, the Smart #1 perfectly combines electric-drive technology and premium quality,” Daniel Lescow, Smart vice president of global sales and marketing, said in the release.
The new Smart’s styling and name were previewed by the Concept #1 shown last September at the Munich auto show. The SUV will use Geely's Sustainable Experience Architecture (SEA). The modular EV platform will also underpin cars from Geely-owned Volvo Cars and Lynk & CO.
At 4290 mm long, the concept was longer than the 3495-mm long Smart ForFour that the production version will replace. The #1 would compete in Europe with a limited number of premium small cars, crossovers and SUVs, including the DS 3 Crossback (which has a full-electric version), the Honda e and the Mini Electric.
The Smart brand was first launched by Mercedes in the late 1990s to produce a premium minicar designed for Europe’s cities. The first model, later called the ForTwo, was famously small enough to be parked perpendicular to the curb. Other models included the sporty Roadster and a collaboration with Renault, the ForFour.
Full-electric versions of the ForTwo and ForFour have been launched in recent years.