If you were asked to name a micro-compact car, what would you name?  Could you come up with one?  There are quite a few compact cars, but a micro-compact car?

Well, if you said the Smart Car you would be absolutely correct, and it is a success and here to stay.

The Smart Car was the brainchild of Nicolas Hayek, CEO of SMH, makers of Swatch watches.  He had an idea for producing cars using the same type of manufacturing strategies as were used in producing the Swatch watches.  He believed that car manufacturers had somehow ignored a niche that called for an extremely small and yet stylish car, so we set about developing a product for that niche.  His prototype was called a Swatchmobile.  The original design sat two and had a hybrid drivetrain.

He then decided rather than compete against the major car manufacturers, that he would go into partnership with an established company.  He started to woo the existing car companies, and eventually went into partnership with Volkswagen in 1991.  However, a new CEO at Volkswagen decided in 1993 that the Swatchmobile directly competed with VW’s own concept known as the VW Lupo 3L, a car that could go 100 km on three liters of gas.  So the partnership was dissolved and Hayek was once again looking for a partner.

He finally found one in Daimler-Benz AG, makers of the Mercedes-Benz, and designing and production began in 1994.

Next step was to name the new car.  It was decided to find a better name than the Swatchmobile, and eventually the name Smart Car came into being.  Production facilities were established in Hambach, France, and the factory soon became known as Smartville.

The assembly plant opened in 1997, and the Smart Car debuted in 1998 in nine European countries.  It has since moved to the United States with mixed success.  The Smart Car really is the perfect car for Europe.  With narrow streets and limited driving room, and certainly limited space for parking, the Smart Car has become the darling of European drivers.  Not so in the United States, where bigger has always been better, but it is slowly increasing its market share in the U.S.

The Smart Car has a small 1.0-liter engine, standard manual transmission, and is only 8’10” long.  Safety is a huge factor in a car so small, and the Smart features antilock brakes and stability and traction control.  EPA ratings have it at 33/41 mpg, and that’s well-worth considering during these tough economic times.

For Smart Car replacement parts, you can always count on your local salvage yard for quality, guaranteed used parts.