Smart electric SUV teased again ahead of IAA 2021 debut [Update]

In June, Smart released a new teaser of the electric SUV from China on Weibo. The short video shows a camouflaged prototype of the Smart electric SUV undergoing road-testing at the Yancheng Proving Ground. Below is a frame from the clip, and while it barely reveals anything, we get a glimpse of the electric SUV’s curvy headlamps and compact dimensions.

Smart electric SUV prototype
The Smart electric SUV has compact dimensions and features curvy headlamps. It will be over 4m long and offer space for 5 adults. Image Source: Weibo/smart

The Smart electric SUV concept is on track to debut at the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021, 6-12 September 2021). Auto Express, which carried the first teasers, says the production car would look barely any different.

Design

The obvious difference in the unnamed Smart model is the size. While Smart is a specialist in compact city vehicles, the rebirth of the brand is marked by an SUV that would be the size of between a supermini and a family hatchback. The repositioned Smart would take on the Mini Countryman Electric with seating for five adults.

Smart Electric SUV sketches official
The new smart SUV is codenamed Smart HX11, as per Autocar. Geely’s SEA (Sustainable Experience Architecture) platform will underpin the model and other future Smart cars. Image: Smart/AutoExpress.

Also different is the design language of the Smart electric SUV, which ditches the visible safety cell for a big ‘grin’ and new plastic panels. The brand is getting reinvented with a new face that is cool and grown-up instead of playful and cute, Mercedes’ design boss Gorden Wagener points out, who oversaw the creation of the concept. Further exterior highlights include a two-tone paintjob and a floating roof effect, with the Smart roundel placed on the C-Pillar edge.

Premium & High tech

The more recent teaser (below) offers a bird’s-eye view of the Smart electric SUV. A sophisticated roof design is complete with gold paint on the borders. The panoramic glass roof features golden capsule-shaped rings in varying sizes, complementing the gold paint on the edges in making the regular SUV look luxurious. On the other hand, the white body colour reflects the simplicity and understated character of the powertrain technology of electric cars.

Smart electric SUV concept roof teaser
The Smart electric SUV concept features a two-tone exterior colour scheme with a gold roof. Image Source: Smart

Kai Sieber, Head of Design, Smart, says that the brand is evolving to become more premium and high-tech.

Smart electric SUV design concept debuting in September

In April 2021, Daniel Lescow, Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing & After-Sales, smart Automobile, confirmed the brand’s participation at the IAA 2021. The smart electric SUV unveiled at the show will be a concept.

Lescow talked about the smart electric SUV during the Car Symposium China Digital at Auto Shanghai 2021 and gave the design highlights. He said:

So that will definitely be a pure electric car. It will be a pure electric, premium, very high-tech, compact SUV. And while saying SUV, it will embody all characteristics that the smart brand stands for. It will feature very very short overhangs, it will feature premium and sophisticated design, it will be very very compact on the outside, while extremely spacious and big on the inside. I can go on and on now, and give you more and more highlights of the vehicle. Actually, I have to stop myself. But we would like to invite you to take part in the global premiere of our smart concept car, which we will bring to the public during the Munich IAA later this year. 

Daniel Lescow, Vice President of global Sales, Marketing & After-Sales, smart Automobile (Car Symposium China Digital at Auto Shanghai 2021)

Dimensions & Range

According to the report, the Smart electric SUV, viewed as a saviour of the Smart brand, will be comparable in size to the MINI Countryman, with a length of over 4 meters (157.5 inches), making it the largest Smart car produced. Chinese reports suggest that it will be an RWD with a single motor generating 268 hp and a battery pack of <70 kWh that gives a range of 500 km or 311 miles (NEDC).

The news of the Smart electric SUV concept follows the confirmation of a production model from Lescow in December last year. In a post titled “smart goes eSUV” on LinkedIn, he said: “It may come as a surprise to some, others will already have guessed it: smart will enter the market with a fully electric SUV – spacious yet compact.”

Geely SEA platform

Lescow confirmed that the Smart brand would use the Geely SEA platform for a future range of vehicles, which includes an A-segment small car, according to media reports. The eSUV, Lescow describes as “super-compact on the outside and big on the inside,” will be made available to customers in Europe and China. Mercedes-Benz will provide the design and support for developing the Smart electric SUV and future Smart models, Lescow’s post detailed.

Smart ForStars concept
The upcoming Smart electric SUV will score a 5-star Euro NCAP rating, Lescow confirmed. Image of the Smart ForStars concept used for illustrative purpose. Image: Daimler

Announced last year, the SEA can handle various applications, including vehicles from A-segment to D- and E-segment and even light commercial vehicles. Front-, rear- and all-wheel drive variants with single-, dual- or triple-motor configuration, with performance figures as brisk as a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in less than 3 seconds and a long range of more than 700 km (435 miles) will be possible, according to Geely.

The SEA is an open-source platform, and Geely announced that it is in talks with B2B and B2C customers, aside from plans to deploy it across its brands (Geely owns Volvo, Polestar, Lotus, Proton, Lynk & Co, Zeekr, and London Electric Vehicle Company and is a major shareholder in Daimler).

The first EV based on the SEA platform is the Zeekr 001 presented in April 2021. The premium electric SUV boasts impressive specs like a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration time of 3.8 seconds and 400 kW of power, in addition to a range of 721 km (442 miles) as per NEDC. The SEA uses a high-speed 800-volt charging system, which can recharge 120 kilometres (74.5 miles) of range in under 5 minutes.

The Smart electric SUV should be more about space and value for money than generating headlines for its acceleration or power. It is more likely to benefit from the cost advantages and the SEA platform’s energy efficiency and quick charging capability, than high-end performance parameters or massive battery packs like the Zeekr 001’s 100 kWh unit.

Zeekr 001 front three quarters left side
The Zeekr 001 enters production this year and will be the first to use the SEA platform, which will underpin the Smart electric SUV. Image Source: ZGH

Safety & Features

Lescow mentioned that the company would reveal further details of the Smart eSUV in due time. However, the electric SUV is confirmed as aiming for a 5-star rating in the Euro NCAP. Speculation is rife that the Smart electric SUV may already have a future competitor in the Volvo XC20, which rides on the SEA platform slotting beneath the current XC40 Recharge.

Some of the expected features on the Smart SUV include OTA updates, smart key and voice control.

Production & Release date

Production of the Smart electric SUV will take place in Xi’an, China. The Smart eSUV is the first vehicle of the joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Geely and will launch for customers in 2022, as per local reports.

Price

Thanks to Geely’s platform, Chinese manufacturing, and relatively less advanced technologies, Daimler can comfortably position the Smart electric SUV in a lower price segment than the Mercedes EQA. For reference, in Germany, the Mercedes EQA, currently Daimler’s smallest electric SUV, starts at €47,540.50 or approximately $56,700. Daimler could set the base price of the Smart electric SUV at around €30,000 ($36,000) and is unlikely to affect EQA sales.

Smart electric SUV FAQs

What is the Smart Electric SUV release date?

Following the conceptual debut this year, the Smart Electric SUV is expected to launch by end of 2022.

Which SUVs would the Smart Electric SUV compete against?

The Smart Electric SUV would rival the Volvo XC20 and the Mini Countryman Electric.

What will be the price of the Smart Electric SUV?

The Smart Electric SUV is expected to be priced from about 30,000 EUR (USD 36,000).

Featured Image Source: Smart/AutoExpress.co.uk