Smart #1 is a hashtag-named compact electric SUV

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Smart names new electric car #1 and shows the first official images.

Smart has confirmed that its compact all-electric SUV will take on the name Smart #1 when it arrives on sale in Europe in 2023, and has teased the model in some official winter testing shots ahead of its full reveal later this year.

The new model, previewed by the Concept #1 at last year’s Munich Motor Show, is tasked with rebooting the brand under joint Mercedes Group-Geely ownership. The brand has confirmed that the #1 name is a significant part of this reboot, as Smart will move to a numbered nomenclature for its cars, and away from the ForTwo and ForFour naming convention previously employed.

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The use of a hashtag in the name is intended to signify the youthfulness of the brand, and the company hopes that the change in strategy will see Smart remerge as a ‘trendsetting’ marque, with a similar impact to when the brand was launched in 1997 with the original Smart City Coupe.

Previously leaked in patent drawings, the images of pre-production prototypes undergoing cold-weather development in China – where the car will be built – reveal a mild evolution of the design established by the concept #1.

Small changes include the incorporation of a proper bonnet, a new-look lower grille section and smaller, road-ready wheels. The surfacing and the proportions of the vehicle closely align with the concept though.

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Smart has confirmed that the design places a particular emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency, with a drag coefficient of 0.29 achieved by touches like flush-fit door handles, and an active grille with intakes that can open and close both standard features of the new car.

At last year’s Munich Motor Show, Smart said that the Concept #1 revealed “a clear insight into the first production model in Smart’s new generation of all-electric vehicles” – and it demonstrates that the company is going to move away from its city-car offerings.

The concept seats four, but the production model will accommodate up to five people, with an interior using a brand new cabin architecture and fresh technology, including a display up to 12.8 inches in size if the #1 Concept is anything to go by.

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Geely is leading the car’s technical development, and while Smart has not confirmed a choice of architecture, it’s all but certain to use SEA – a new all-electric platform that’ll also underpin Chinese-market models, as well as a forthcoming baby model from Geely-owned brand Volvo.

Smart has not issued technical information but the SEA platform is said to support battery sizes between 58kWh and 100kWh; the #1  is likely to offer a battery around 70kWh, giving a real-world range of more than 320km.

While the platform can also accommodate dual-motor set-ups producing more than 365kW, the Smart is likely to have a single motor offering around 190kW mounted at the rear, which will help deliver a typically tight turning circle.

The #1 is expected to be manufactured alongside electric successors to the Smart Fortwo and Forfour at a new joint-venture factory in Xi’an, China, which has a production capacity of 300,000 cars per year.

James Brodie

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