Smart eSUV: new electric crossover the start of a new era

Published: 24 May 2021

► New eSUV from Smart features Geely 'open-source' tech
► Mercedes design over a new global platform
► On show at September's Munich motor show

Smart's latest concept, due to debut at the 2021 Munich motor show, follows the two key trends of the moment: it's electric, and it's a larger SUV-style vehicle.

Ahead of the official unveiling, Smart's showing off a few sketches and exterior details to whet your appetite for what it's initially calling an 'eSUV'; previous concepts have hinted that the name Smart Formore could be used, following the pattern established by Fortwo and Forfour.

Exterior design is the work of Mercedes, and follows the classic two-tone theme though the sketches suggest the 'visible' Tridion stucture is part of the new aesthetic, It seems unlikely that the swappable-panel plastic innovations of the original Smart will feature here.

'The new Smart SUV will be instantly recognisable as Smart: ultra-modern, sophisticated and advanced in connectivity solutions,' says Daniel Lescow, Smart's sales and marketing chief.

smart esuv sketch

'We took this great opportunity to restart the brand, and our eSUV concept embodies all of the new DNA of Smart. It's a visionary approach that creates a new identity for the brand. More beautiful, sportier and of course, much cooler than before. Icons like this concept have all the potential to turn Smart into a leading design brand,' adds Gorden Wagener, head of design for the whole Daimler group.

Turn it into a leading design brand? Arguably that was a position Smart held a quarter of a century ago, when it grew out of the Swatch watch company as a truly innovative car maker. That leading-edge appeal has waned over the years, though. But there is something clever underpinning this new Smart.

smart esuv c-pillar

Under the skin, it's based on Geely's Sustainable Experience Architecture, or SEA – described as an 'open-source' platform by Geely.

Core to the eSUV's capabilities will be an expandable software and hardware architecture that's designed to recognise the demands of the next generation of cars. This includes encrypted car-to-X communications with dedicated 5G chipsets, flexible autonomous features, and 800V electrical architecture.

Without further details on the Smart eSUVs size and power specification, how much of SEA's potential will be used is pure speculation, but as it also provides the basis for Lynk & Co's Zero EV concept, future Polestar models and the Lotus electric SUV, this could be a Smart that seems light years ahead of the now dated EQ models currently on sale.

By Richard Kilpatrick

Technology writer and photographer since the early '90s, now car-obsessed, too

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