After a flurry of rumors, DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche announces on June 28, 2006 that the company’s urban-focused Smart brand–already popular in Europe–will come to the United States in early 2008.
Smart–an acronym for Swatch Mercedes ART–began as a joint venture between Swatch, the company known for its colorful and trendy plastic watches, and the German automaker Mercedes-Benz. The result of this collaboration was the Smart ForTwo, which measured just over eight feet from bumper to bumper and was marketed as a safe, fuel-efficient car that could be maneuvered easily through narrow, crowded city streets. The ForTwo debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1997 and went on sale in nine European countries over the next year. Despite its popularity among urban Europeans, Smart posted significant losses, and Swatch soon pulled out of the joint venture. Despite these setbacks, Mercedes maker DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler AG) made an initial foray into the North American market, launching the Smart in Canada in 2004.
On June 28, 2006, Zetsche announced Smart’s planned U.S. launch, declaring: “The time has never been better for this–and I am convinced that the Smart ForTwo as an innovative, ecological and agile city car will soon become just as familiar a sight on the streets of New York, Miami or Seattle, as it is today in Rome, Berlin or Paris.” Between 2003 and 2006, as reported by the German newspaper Handelsblatt, DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler AG) had taken a loss of some 3.9 billion euros (around $5.2 billion) on the Smart brand, and the company looked to the U.S. market as a way to bring the brand into profitability. It had initially planned a 2006 release in the United States, but pushed it back; the skyrocketing price of fuel gave the company the impetus it needed to introduce the Smart, which was designed to achieve 40 plus miles per gallon under normal driving conditions.
Marketed as “a small car with a big urban solution,” the Smart was inevitably compared to another small, odd-looking vehicle that had arrived in the United States from Germany nearly four decades before: the Volkswagen Beetle. Though early interest in the Smart resulted in more than 30,000 early registrations by September 2007, skeptics pointed to several factors that might hurt the Smart’s sales among American consumers, including the popularity of gas-electric hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius (reportedly more fuel efficient than the Smart) and that of another small (though much larger than the Smart) urban-friendly car, the Mini Cooper.
The Smart Car Is Officially Dead in the U.S.
The electric Fortwo, which was the only Smart model still for sale in America, is going away at the end of the 2019 model year.
- The Smart city-car brand will soon cease operations in the U.S. as its single model, the Fortwo, goes away after the 2019 model year.
- Smart, which is owned by Daimler, had already stopped selling the gasoline-powered Fortwo in America, restricting the lineup to include only the electric model starting in 2017.
- The 2019 Smart EQ Fortwo is still on sale for the time being, starting at $24,650, but won't be around for long.
Smart is officially exiting the U.S. market and will stop importing its all-electric Fortwo city car to North America after the 2019 model year. A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz said in a statement that the high cost of homologating the Fortwo for the U.S., combined with slow sales, led to the decision. Smart had already dropped the gasoline-powered Fortwo from its lineup in 2017, leaving only the electric Fortwo that was recently rebadged as an EQ model to correspond with Mercedes-Benz's new electric subbrand.
A subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz and parent company Daimler, Smart first arrived in the U.S. in 2008 and sold nearly 25,000 copies of the Fortwo in its first year. Sales have been on a steep decline since then, and the downward trend took a sharp turn when the gasoline models were dropped from the lineup. A paltry 1276 Smart vehicles were sold in the U.S. throughout all of 2018.
Mercedes-Benz says that dealerships will continue to provide service and parts for current owners of both gasoline- and electric-powered Smart Fortwo models. Smart's U.S. website currently lists 82 dealers nationwide that are authorized to service the cars, with 23 of those dealers listed as having Smart inventory.
The 2019 Smart EQ Fortwo will still available for a little while longer, starting at $24,650. It's available in both coupe and convertible models, both of which are powered by an 80-horsepower electric motor. EPA-rated range sits at a short 58 miles for the hardtop and 57 miles for the droptop.
Daimler and Infosys Announce Strategic Partnership to Drive Hybrid Cloud-powered Innovation & IT Infrastructure Transformation in the Automotive Sector
Daimler AG and Infosys (NYSE: INFY), today announced a long-term strategic partnership for a technology-driven IT infrastructure transformation. After the receipt of all regulatory approvals, Daimler AG will transform its IT operating model and infrastructure landscape across workplace services, service desk, data center, networks and SAP Basis together with Infosys. The partnership will enable the company to deepen its focus on software engineering and to establish a fully scalable on-demand digital IT infrastructure and anytime-anywhere workplace. The collaboration will empower Daimler to strengthen its IT capabilities, and Infosys, its automotive expertise.
As software becomes modular, digital infrastructure continues to play an important role in defragmentation. Daimler will work towards a model that ensures a robust IT infrastructure across its plants and regions, and supports consolidation of its data centers, scaling its IT operations, and bringing innovations to the fore. Some of the key deliverables from this partnership include:
- A smart hybrid cloud, leveraging Infosys Cobalt and leading cloud providers, accelerating the multi-cloud journey with a focus on open source adoption
- A carbon neutral solution, by consolidating and rationalizing data centers across all regions
- Standardized technology stack by bringing in an ecosystem of best of breed partners
- Creation of a state of the art Zero Trust network with seamless technology upgrades
- Persona-driven and cognitive, AI powered anytime-anywhere workplace solution that empowers the end-users
As a part of this partnership, automotive IT infrastructure experts based out of Germany, wider Europe, the U.S. and the APAC region will transition from Daimler AG to Infosys. Infosys is well placed to realize this transition as an expert having integrated more than 16,000 employees through other partnerships in recent years with a high acceptance, retention and satisfaction rate. The transfer will also enable Infosys to bolster and grow its automotive business, while offering Daimler employees strong prospects for long-term career growth and development.
“We are excited about this partnership and the opportunity to support Daimler AG’s automotive vision. As we embark on this journey, we will bring together capabilities, ecosystems and a hybrid cloud infrastructure that will shape new experiences for Daimler AG and the industry at large. Infosys has deep expertise in helping our clients across the globe navigate their digital journeys, and as part of this strategic partnership, we look forward to setting a new standard for the automotive industry,” said Salil Parekh, Chief Executive Officer, Infosys.
Talking about the partnership, Jan Brecht, Chief Information Officer, Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, said, “Software becomes modular and IT infrastructure becomes big. Daimler will take three steps at once to transform its IT infrastructure: consolidation, scaling and modernization. We need to think infrastructure beyond the size of our company. With Infosys we found a partner to scale, to innovate and to speed up. Moreover, this is a strategic partnership for Daimler’s IT capabilities and Infosys’ automotive expertise. Infosys wants to grow with us in the automotive industry, which gives career opportunities for our employees. With this partnership, Daimler also strengthens its overall technology investment and partnership strategy.”
Daimler at a glance
Daimler AG is one of the world's most successful automotive companies. With its Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans, Daimler Trucks & Buses and Daimler Mobility divisions, the Group is one of the leading global suppliers of premium cars and one of the world's largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles. Daimler Mobility offers financing, leasing, fleet management, investments, credit card and insurance brokerage as well as innovative mobility services. The company founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, made history by inventing the automobile in 1886. As a pioneer of automotive engineering, Daimler sees shaping the future of mobility in a safe and sustainable way as both a motivation and obligation. The company's focus therefore remains on innovative and green technologies as well as on safe and superior vehicles that both captivate and inspire. Daimler continues to invest systematically in the development of efficient powertrains – from high-tech combustion engines and hybrid vehicles to all-electric powertrains with battery or fuel cell – with the goal of making locally emission-free driving possible in the long term. The company's efforts are also focused on the intelligent connectivity of its vehicles, autonomous driving and new mobility concepts. Daimler regards it as its aspiration and obligation to live up to its responsibility to society and the environment. Daimler sells its vehicles and services in nearly every country of the world and has production facilities in Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa. In addition to Mercedes-Benz, the world's most valuable luxury automotive brand (source: Interbrand study, 20 Oct. 2020), and Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes me, its brand portfolio includes smart, EQ, Freightliner, Western Star, BharatBenz, FUSO, Setra and Thomas Built Buses as well as the brands of Daimler Mobility: Mercedes-Benz Bank, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Daimler Truck Financial. The company is listed on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart stock exchanges (ticker symbol DAI). In 2019, the Group had a workforce of around 298,700 and sold 3.3 million vehicles. Group revenues amounted to €172.7 billion and Group EBIT to €4.3 billion.
Further information on Daimler is available at www.media.daimler.com and www.daimler.com
Infosys is a global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting. We enable clients in 46 countries to navigate their digital transformation. With nearly four decades of experience in managing the systems and workings of global enterprises, we expertly steer our clients through their digital journey. We do it by enabling the enterprise with an AI-powered core that helps prioritize the execution of change. We also empower the business with agile digital at scale to deliver unprecedented levels of performance and customer delight. Our always-on learning agenda drives their continuous improvement through building and transferring digital skills, expertise, and ideas from our innovation ecosystem.
Dead in North America: Smart
Smart, the little-car brand that first took on European roads before coming here to the United States has had a weird recent few years . And now, after nosediving sales, it seems like the brand is leaving our shores forever.
After the 2019 model year, the Smart EQ Fortwo models will be discontinued, according to TechCrunch , citing two unnamed sources from Daimler AG.
Daimler’s confirmation on the matter reads,
“After much careful consideration, smart will discontinue its battery-electric smart EQ fortwo model in the U.S. and Canadian markets at the conclusion of MY2019. A number of factors, including a declining micro-car market in the U.S. and Canada, combined with high homologation costs for a low volume model are central to this decision.”
Current Smart owners in the U.S. and Canada won’t be left high and dry, though. The outlet reports that Mercedes-Benz will continue to provide access to service and replacement parts.
Of course, this isn’t the end of Smart, just the end of Smart in North America. In March, we learned that the Chinese conglomerate Geely (which also owns Volvo and Lotus ) had entered in a joint venture with Daimler to turn Smart into a Chinese-built electric car brand. Mercedes will help style the new Smart cars, while Geely will be responsible for engineering.
In 2018, Smart announced that it would go all-electric worldwide and that all Smart models sold in North America would be EV-only. Gas-driven Smarts stopped being sold after the 2017 model year.
Really, is it surprising that Smart is pulling out of the U.S. market? With our insatiable thirst for big cars, it’s no wonder that such a little car would have difficulty gaining popularity.
Here, Smart only sold 83 cars this past January, 58 in February and 90 in March, according to CarSalesbase , which also notes that part of the sales went to Car2Go, Daimler’s car-sharing program. It seems like numbers really dwindled after the cars went electric.
So if you’ve been sitting on the idea of buying a Smart, act now or forever hold your peace.
We’ve reached out to Mercedes for additional comment on the manner and will update if we hear back.
Simms and the Daimler engine Edit
Engineer Frederick Richard Simms was supervising construction of an aerial cableway of his own design for the Bremen Exhibition in 1889 when he saw tiny railcars powered by Gottlieb Daimler's motors. Simms, who had been born to English parents in Hamburg and raised by them there, became friends with Daimler, an Anglophile who had worked from autumn 1861 to summer 1863 at Beyer-Peacock in Gorton, Manchester.  
Simms introduced Daimler's motors to England in 1890 to power launches. In an agreement dated 18 February 1891, he obtained British and Empire rights for the Daimler patents. That month, Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft lent Simms a motorboat with a 2 hp engine and an extra engine.  In June 1891 Simms had set up a London office at 49 Leadenhall Street and founded Simms & Co consulting engineers.  In May 1892, the motorboat, which Simms had named Cannstatt, began running on the Thames from Putney.  After demonstrating a motor launch to The Honourable Evelyn Ellis, Simms's motor launch business grew rapidly, but became endangered when solicitor Alfred Hendriks was found to have been illegally taking money from the company.  Hendriks severed his connections with Simms & Co. in February 1893. Simms' Daimler-related work was later moved into a new company, The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited, which was formed on 26 May 1893. 
Simms plans to make cars Edit
Following the success of Daimler-powered Peugeots and Panhards at the 1894 Paris–Rouen competition, Simms decided to open a motor car factory, 
On 7 June 1895 Simms told the board of the Daimler Motor Syndicate that he intended to form The Daimler Motor Company Limited to acquire the British rights to the Daimler patents and to manufacture Daimler engines and cars in England.  That month, he arranged for the syndicate to receive a ten percent (10%) commission on all British sales of Daimler-powered Panhard & Levassor cars. 
At the same meeting Simms produced the first licence to operate a car under the Daimler patents. It was for a 3 + 1 ⁄ 2 hp Panhard & Levassor that had been bought in France by The Honourable Evelyn Ellis, who had three Daimler motor launches moored by his home at Datchet. On 3 July, after Ellis bought the licence, the car was landed at Southampton and driven by Ellis to Micheldever near Winchester where Ellis met Simms and they drove together to Datchet. Ellis later drove it on to Malvern. This was the first long journey by motorcar in Britain.  Simms later referred to the car as a "Daimler Motor Carriage". 
Later in 1895 Simms announced plans to form The Daimler Motor Company Limited and to build a brand-new factory, with delivery of raw materials by light rail, for 400 workmen making Daimler engines and motor carriages. Simms asked his friend Daimler to be consulting engineer to the new enterprise.  Works premises at Eel Pie Island on the Thames  where the Thames Electric and Steam Launch Company, owned by Andrew Pears of Pears Soap fame, had been making electrically powered motor launches,  were purchased to be used to service Daimler-powered motor launches.  
Simms sells out to Lawson Edit
Investor Harry John Lawson had set out to use the British Motor Syndicate to monopolise motor car production in Britain by taking over every patent he could. As part of this goal, Lawson approached Simms on 15 October 1895, seeking the right to arrange the public flotation of the proposed new company and to acquire a large shareholding for his British Motor Syndicate.  Welcomed by Simms, the negotiations proceeded on the basis that this new company should acquire The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited as a going concern, including the name and patent rights. 
In order that the Daimler licences could be transferred from Simms to the new company, all the former partners would have to agree to the transfer. By this time, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach had withdrawn from Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft's business to concentrate on cars and engines for them.  Simms offered to pay DMG £17,500 for the transfer and for a licence for Daimler and Maybach's Phénix engine, which DMG did not own. Simms therefore insisted that the transfer be on the condition that Daimler and Maybach rejoined DMG.   This was agreed in November 1895 and the Daimler-Maybach car business re-merged with DMG's. Daimler was appointed DMG's General Inspector and Maybach chief Technical Director.   At the same time Simms became a director of DMG but did not become a director of the London company. According to Gustav Vischer, DMG's business manager at the time, Simms getting Daimler to return to DMG was "no mean feat". 
The sale of Daimler Motor Syndicate to Lawson's interests was completed by the end of November 1895. The shareholders of the Syndicate had made a profit of two hundred percent (200%) on their original investment. 
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* The figures are provided in accordance with the German regulation 'PKW-EnVKV' and apply to the German market only. Further information on official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO₂ emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the EU guide 'Information on the fuel consumption, CO₂ emissions and energy consumption of new cars', which is available free of charge at all sales dealerships, from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH and at www.dat.de.
** Electric energy consumption and range have been determined on the basis of Regulation (EC) No. 692/2008. Electric energy consumption and range depend on the vehicle configuration.
Mercedes-Benz and Geely. Global joint venture formally established
January 08, 2020 - Mercedes-Benz AG (Mercedes-Benz) and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group (Geely Holding), the German and Chinese automotive groups, today announced that they have formally established the global joint venture “smart Automobile Co., Ltd.” for the smart brand after receiving the regulatory approvals.
The total registered capital of the Joint Venture will be 5.4 billion RMB to transform smart into a leading player in premium-and intelligent electrified vehicles. Both parties will equally contribute 2.7 billion RMB, the share of Mercedes-Benz AG will be mainly covered by the contribution of the smart brand. The global headquarters of the new joint venture has been set in Hangzhou Bay, Ningbo with operational sales functions based in China and Germany.
The new generation of smart vehicles will be designed by the worldwide Mercedes-Benz Design network and developed by the Geely global engineering network. Future production will be located in China. As part of the vehicle-development program, the smart product portfolio will be extended into the fast-growing B-segment that are in line with smart’s brand positioning with a focus on pure premium electric and connected vehicles.
The board of directors of the new smart joint venture will be made up of six executives with equal representation from both parties. Daimler AG board representatives will include Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Greater China, Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG responsible for Marketing & Sales, and Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. Geely board representatives will include Geely Holding Chairman Li Shufu, Geely Holding President, Geely Auto Group President and CEO An Conghui, Geely Holding Executive Vice President and CFO Daniel Donghui Li.
Tong Xiangbei has been appointed the new global CEO of the smart joint venture and will oversee all operations relating to the brand including sales, marketing, R&D, production and after sales. Tong has more than two decades of experience in automotive industry. Before joining the smart joint venture, he has worked for global automotive OEMs both in the United States and in China.
Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, said: “Having received all necessary regulatory approvals we are now ready to start the joint venture with our partner Geely that has been in preparation for the past several months. The joint venture will bring the next generation of zero-emission smart electric cars to the Chinese and global markets. We look forward to continue our collaboration to bring desirable products and services to customers around the world.”
Li Shufu, Geely Holding Chairman said: “The smart brand has a unique value and global influence, it has grown to be a leader in urban mobility. Geely Holding will fully support the smart brand with its full advantages in R&D, manufacturing, supply chain and other fields into the joint venture and support its development in China and globally. We will work together with Mercedes-Benz to transform the smart brand into a leading player in urban premium, electric and connected vehicles to successfully develop the brand’s global potential.”
DaimlerChrysler announces Smart’s arrival in United States - HISTORY
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U.S. Authorities Return 523 Smuggled Pre-Hispanic Artifacts to Mexico
In April 2016, park rangers stumbled onto a trove of pre-Hispanic artifacts hidden at Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas. Concerned that the items had been illegally imported from Mexico, the National Park Service (NPS) launched a multi-agency investigation that resulted in the recovery of 523 smuggled objects, including stone arrowheads, knife blades and tools.
Last Thursday, reports Julian Resendiz for ABC 8 News, authorities repatriated the artifacts to their home country in a ceremony held at the Mexican Consulate in El Paso, Texas. Experts think that Indigenous peoples living in what is now the state of Coahuila created the items prior to Spanish colonizers’ arrival in the Americas.
“The return of these pre-Hispanic pieces highlights the active cooperation between the governments of Mexico and the United States in the protection of cultural goods, as well as a commitment for historical and cultural legacies to return to their places of origin,” said Mexican Consul General Mauricio Ibarra Ponce de León during the ceremony, per a statement from Homeland Security Investigations (HIS).
According to HIS, an unnamed trafficker smuggled the artifacts into the U.S. and placed them up for sale. Investigators tasked with looking into the suspicious find at Big Ben National Park seized the items in August 2016. The goods were officially forfeited to the government in May 2017.
“We are honored to have participated in the multi-agency investigation effort that led to today’s repatriation of several hundred artifacts to the Government and people of Mexico,” said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge on Thursday, as quoted in the statement. “It is a collective accomplishment that demonstrates our shared mission to preserve history for generations to come.”
As the Art Newspaper’s Nancy Kenney points out, the statement does not name the trafficker, instead simply stating that a U.S. District Court convicted the individual involved on charges of smuggling goods. In March 2017, however, the NPS released a statement detailing the successful prosecution of Andrew Kowalik, a resident of Rockport, on charges of smuggling more than 500 objects through Big Bend.
Indigenous peoples living in what is now the Mexican state of Coahuila created the artifacts prior to the Spanish Conquest. (Homeland Security Investigations)
Writing for KXAN at the time, Claire Ricke noted that a judge sentenced Kowalik to five years of home confinement, with supervised release during the day. He was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and forfeit the objects to Mexico.
Kowalik’s conviction—and the artifacts’ recent return to Mexico—are part of a broader story of the illicit trade of pre-Hispanic artifacts.
As Gabriel Moyssen wrote for Mexican newspaper El Universal in 2019, “Mexico continues to suffer the looting of its cultural heritage despite the national and international laws on the matter, due to a lack of proper oversight, corruption, and indifference of other governments.”
In 2016, a joint investigation spearheaded by Peruvian news outlet OjoPúblico found that nine out of ten cultural objects stolen in Mexico are never recovered.
“The official records not only show poor results in the recuperation of stolen cultural objects,” the authors wrote in their report. “It also shows that there is a lack of information, monitoring, and coordination among those who are responsible for the issue.”
Per a separate El Universal article, the majority of artifacts smuggled out of Mexico end up in the U.S., Spain, Germany and Italy. The U.S. has returned thousands of stolen pre-Hispanic objects to Mexico over the past decade—including a cache of 4,000 statues, pots, hatchets and assorted items repatriated in 2012, as well as 277 artifacts returned just last month—but challenges associated with protecting the country’s cultural heritage remain.
In February, for instance, the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) lodged a criminal complaint accusing Christie’s Paris of illegally selling 30 pre-Hispanic items. Despite this objection, the auction house went ahead with the sale, as the Associated Press (AP) reported at the time.
“The theft of cultural property and artifacts is not merely a crime, it is an offense against a nation’s history,” said special agent Erik P. Breitzke during the repatriation ceremony, per the statement. “HSI is a global leader in investigating crimes involving the illegal importation and distribution of cultural property. We are committed to working with our law enforcement partners and foreign governments to ensure that individuals do not profit from these criminal acts.”