The company is presently selling 7,000 City-Coupes and Cabriolets, plus about 1000 of the Roadster and Roadster-Coupe sports cars. The first full year's volume for the Forfour, in 2005, is expected to be 8,000.
Head of Smart UK Jeremy Simpson says he expects to launch a basic Pulse version at under £10,000. This will have a 1.1-litre 74bhp three-cylinder petrol engine.
Dealers will have huge scope for upselling. The range also includes 1.3 95bhp and 1.5-litre 107bhp four-cylinders, plus a 1.5 turbodiesels.
Because this is the first Smart built around a Mercedes electronic loom, there will be a huge number of high-margin options available, including navigation and telematics. Brabus accessories will also be available, and a year or so later a full Brabus version, so dealers can expect to double the base price.
The original Smart was expected to generate accessory sales through new pop-on skin panel sets and the Forfour shares this feature. In fact, owners simply swap sets via the internet and bypass the dealers.
The Forfour shares a platform, plus engines and manual transmissions, with the upcoming Mitsubishi Colt, both to be made in Born, in the Netherlands. The Smart will be available only as a five-door, while Mitsubishi will add a three-door at the end of 2004. Smart's stated sales ambitions are comparatively modest for a new supermini – just 120,000 across Europe in 2005. Philipp Schiemer, vice-president of marketing and sales, says: “We are still a young brand and we have our own network, which is smaller than Mini's. If we put Smarts in Mercedes showrooms, it wouldn't work. A Smart customer expects something different. Anyway, we can make money because we share components with Mitsubishi.”
According to Schiemer, the Forfour has been perceived as a real Smart in clinics, even though apart from its styling it is actually pretty conventional. “We couldn't have launched the brand with this car – it's not different enough. We needed the City-Coupe for that,” he admits. People at nationwide clinics were asked to rate a number of cars on an 'emotional Celsius' scale. The Mini scored 70 degrees, the Polo 20 degrees, the Peugeot 206 45 degrees. The Forfour achieved 65 degrees.
n Smart is renaming is two-seater City-Coupe and City Cabriolet models Fortwo, in line with the Fourfour seater. The new name will be applied to cars built from January. Roadsters keep their names.