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Smart CEO Dirk Adelmann: The best of both worlds!


2022 Smart wants to start again with an SUV. In an interview, Smart Europe boss Dirk Adelmann explains how the brand intends to assert itself in Europe.

Dirk Adelmann worked for Daimler and Mercedes worldwide and has been responsible for the European business of Smart Europe GmbH as CEO since 2020, which, as a 100 percent subsidiary of the Geely-Mercedes joint venture, is responsible for the restart of the Smart advances in Europe. Immediately after the world premiere of the Smart Concept #1 , Adelmann answered our questions.

Mr. Adelmann, Smart is launching the upcoming SUV in the competitive SUV segment. How do you intend to assert yourself there?

We are very aware of the competition, but we have a vehicle with an architecture that is unique in this segment. Thanks to the cooperation with Geely, we have a level of connectivity that we would never have been able to achieve alone or in a group with European partners. And we have a Mercedes design. We use the best of both worlds. And that is already a differentiating factor in this segment. Because premium providers are few and far between in this environment.

So Smart is positioning itself as a premium provider?

Yes, we define this as "Light Premium", i.e. a premium claim, but with a certain lightness. Not as serious as we have known it so far.

The SEA platform comes from Geely , the digital infrastructure too. Does that also mean that the new Smart SUV is not integrated into the MBUX world of Mercedes?

Correct. That is something completely unique. The software architecture comes from the Geely subsidiary ECARX, the chips Qualcomm supplies the computer. The entire car is developed around this digital infrastructure. And it fits perfectly with the SEA platform developed by Geely in China.

Over-the-air updates have been around at Geely for a long time. How far does it go OTA capability of the future smart SUV?

75 percent of all control units can be flashed and updated over the air. This means we can even offer additional features on demand.

That means if I notice in November that it will be in winter without steering wheel heating very sc hon it's cold, can I book them later for the winter months?

Yes, that will be possible. We will not have classic option lists, but will offer equipment lines. The higher-priced lines will of course bring certain comfort features with them. However, it will also be possible to subsequently unlock such gimmicks as a steering wheel heater for cheaper lines.

But does that mean that, for example, the steering wheel heating is also installed on the hardware side of the cheaper models?

Yes, that will be the case.

On the subject of sales, you say: "Smart's data-driven approach will redefine omnichannel retail, letting the brand connect directly with its customers and fans, creating meaningful interactions at every touchpoint and guaranteeing a more transparent and convenient customer journey. ” And now without kidding: where do I go in 2022 if I want to buy a Smart?

Either the customer stays at home on the couch or he goes to one of our current partners. They will continue to be the backbone of our sales. Admittedly you will no longer conclude a sales contract with them in the future. In the future, the partners will be the face of the brand. This is where the showrooms are, where advice, test drives and vehicle handover take place. However, the customer concludes the contract in this commission or agent model directly with Smart Europe GmbH. This is a purely digital process.

So far, only the maximum range of 430 kilometers according to WLTP is known. Does this also apply to a possible basic model?

We will offer two batteries in the series, with a maximum range of 430 kilometers. But there will also be an entry-level version with a smaller battery.

In terms of price, we sorted you out at a good 30,000 euros...

To the P I can't say anything about the production model yet. However, we will focus on vehicles such as the VW ID.3 and also on various combustion models in the segment.

The production model of Concept #1 is coming in 2022. How long will the EQ Fortwo be around?

We still need the Fortwo for a while. With the SUV, however, we will then be able to reach many more customers. Namely those who want to drive a Smart as their first vehicle.

Nevertheless, the EQ Fortwo is more or less at the end of its lifetime. Would Geely's SEA platform be flexible enough for a new "real" Smart two-seater?

That would be possible on the SEA platform. And we as Smart would be well advised to keep the two-seater in mind if the Fortwo eventually phased out. I can't reveal any more details yet, but it is clear that Smart will be a multi-product company. In various segments.

Is the Geely plant in Xian, where the Smarts are to be built, Actually finished?

Yes, that's completely finished. But not only Smarts are built there, but various Geely models.

Despite "Light-Premium", the compact SUV segment is of course very price-sensitive. Wouldn't it make sense to use cheaper lithium-iron phosphate cells in addition to classic lithium-ion batteries?

Thanks to our partner CATL, we are excellently positioned on the battery side and are offering lithium-ion batteries with an 8-year guarantee at the start of series production. We'll see what's possible after that.

Thank you for the interview!


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