Smart is focusing on EVs in a bit to combat sliding sales.Daimler-owned smart has decided to stop selling gasoline-burning models in the United States and in Canada.Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dieter Exler recently told smart dealers about the decision in a letter. The text hasn't been made public, but Automotive News managed to obtain a copy of it.
"Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio," he explained. "The smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions smart electric-drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada," he continued.
Production of the U.S.-spec, gasoline-powered fortwo will stop in April, but sales will continue until inventory -- which currently includes a few unsold 2016 models -- runs out. Deliveries of the electric variants (pictured) will begin this summer.
The news comes in the wake of dwindling North American sales. According to Automotive News, smart's best year in the United States was 2014, when it sold 10,453 cars. Sales dropped to just 6,211 units last year, the third-gen car's first full year on the market; if anything, sales should have spiked after the introduction of a new model.
Clearly, American motorists aren't interested in the diminutive two-seater. Relatively low gas prices and a market shifting towards high-riding crossovers haven't helped the company's sales, either.
The decision to go EV-only after the 2017 model year applies to the U.S. and Canada. In other markets like Europe, smart will continue selling the fortwo with a three-cylinder engine borrowed from the Renault parts bin.
Updated 2/15/2017 by Ronan Glon: Added official information about smart's decision to go EV-only.