Saturday, September 03, 2005
History of smart: smartville
We visited Smartville, Hambach, France July 2000
"The smart production plant on the Europôle de Sarreguemines industrial estate in France, about 30 kilometers south of Saarbrücken (Germany), is one of the most modern car plants in the world. The plant, which was completed in October 1997, covers an area of 68 hectares. smartville is operated by MCC France SAS, in which DaimlerChrysler AG has a 75 percent holding. The second shareholder is the French state-owned company SOFIREM (Société Financière pour favoriser l'Industrialisation des Régions Minières) with a holding of 25 percent."
The smart fortwo is manufactured at Smartville, a purpose-built factory complex in Hambach, France, established in 1994 as a joint-venture of Daimler-Benz and the Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch.
The project was originally supported by Swatch, and was nicknamed the "Swatchmobile". The car was supposed to use innovative features (such as hybrid engine) and to be an affordable car for young people. Its purpose was to "transport two people and a case of beer" (later replaced by a case of water).
Being inexperienced in automobiles, Swatch CEO Nicolas Hayek sought an established car maker to produce his Swatch car, and found a partner in Volkswagen. Plans never reached a final stage so Swatch teamed up with Daimler-Benz. The car proved to be far from expectations: technology was conventional and it was more expensive than most small 4-seater cars sold in Europe. The joint venture experienced heavy losses and Swatch pulled out.
In 2005, DaimlerChrysler decided against purchasing a 50% share in the NedCar plant used to manufacture the forfour. DC also halted development on the formore.