China, Smart cars are all yours. Enjoy.
When you think of cars in China, they're either blatant copies of those built by mainstream automakers, or big sedans and SUVs from the actual companies. Like the US, the Chinese love big cars. But interestingly enough, Daimler's Smart brand has been experiencing a sales increase recently. Currently celebrating its fifth anniversary in China, Smart CEO, Annette Winkler stated that when the brand first arrived, "many people doubted that Smart could be a success...because normally, luxury, premium cars in China is about big cars."
Right, so what's causing things to change? There've been signs of an economic slowdown in China but more importantly, drivers there want something more affordable to buy and run, and that can make its way through crowded cities without much of a hassle. Smart cars, because they're from Daimler, are still considered premium compacts. That's good enough for many young Chinese buyers. For example, Smart sold about 17,500 cars in China last year. Sales are expected to slow slightly for 2015 because of model changes, but numbers will go up again once Smart launches its new two-seater and four-seater in the world's biggest car market.
Double digit growth is therefore expected for 2016. With that in mind, Smart will bring its car2go car sharing service to China in the near future but it has yet to provide a precise date. If all goes to plan and the sales predictions prove true, China will become a gold mine for Smart within just a few short years.