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If built, the company's soft-roader is at least three years away.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has revealed that smart could move into the booming small crossover segment in the next few years.Speaking to British magazine Auto Express on the sidelines of last week's Shanghai Motor Show, Daimler's top executive explained that smart is currently focusing on successfully launching the third-gen fortwo and the forfour, its core products. The forfour family is expected to gain a battery-powered version soon, while fortwo lineup will be expanded over the next year or so with a convertible model, a hot-rodded Brabus-tuned model and an eco-friendly model powered by an all-electric drivetrain.

The company will decide whether or not to build a long-rumored crossover as soon as all of the aforementioned models have hit the market. If it is given the green light for production, smart's crossover will be most likely a standalone model that will only share a handful of mechanical components with the fortwo and the forfour. Building a more rugged looking version of the forfour has been ruled out because its rear-engined, rear-wheel drive layout would make it impractical at best.

Zetsche did not mention when executives will make a final decision on the soft-roader. If built, the yet-unnamed crossover could land in showrooms before the end of the decade.

Déjà vu
Smart was set to introduce a close-to-production concept called formore (pictured) at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show. Built on the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class, the concept was supposed to spawn a compact crossover designed largely to spearhead the company's expansion into North America.

About a dozen fully functional prototypes were built but the whole project was shelved mere months before the show opened its doors because the automaker was in dire financial straits. Rumors of a smart crossover have been circulating around the auto industry ever since.