Smart Cars - Origins

Origins

In the late 1980s, SMH (makers of the Swatch brand of watches) CEO Nicolas Hayek began developing an idea for a new car using the same type of manufacturing strategies and personalization features used to popularize Swatch watches. He believed that the automotive industry had ignored a sector of potential customers who wanted a small and stylish city car. This idea soon became known as the "Swatchmobile". Hayek's private company Hayek Engineering AG began designing the new car for SMH, with seating for two and a hybrid drivetrain.

While design of the car was proceeding, Hayek feared existing manufacturers would feel threatened by the Swatchmobile. Thus, rather than directly competing, he preferred to cooperate with another company in the automotive industry. This would also relieve SMH of the cost burden in setting up a distribution network. Hayek approached several automotive manufacturers and on July 3, 1991 he reached an agreement with Volkswagen to share development of the new project.

By 1993 Ferdinand Piëch had become CEO of Volkswagen and he immediately sought to terminate the project with SMH. Volkswagen had already been working on their own "three-litre car": a car which would consume three litres of fuel per 100 km of driving (the eventual Volkswagen Lupo 3L). Volkswagen's own concept was believed to be a better business proposition, featuring four seats and more cargo room.

Hayek had suspected that Piëch would seek to end the agreement with SMH upon his ascendancy to the CEO position; therefore, he discreetly began approaching other car companies with the Swatchmobile project. Rebuffed by BMW, Fiat, General Motors and Renault, he finally reached an informal agreement with Daimler-Benz AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars.

A deal was announced on March 4, 1994, at a press conference at Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart that the companies would join forces in founding Micro Compact Car AG (MCC). 49% of the initial capital of 50 million Swiss francs were provided by SMH and the remaining 51% by Daimler-Benz. The company consisted of two subsidiaries: MCC GmbH based in Renningen (a suburb of Stuttgart) which would design the car, and the then-unnamed manufacturing plant. SMH Auto SA, owned by Hayek, would design a hybrid electric drive system for the car, while Hayek Engineering would audit the design and manufacturing.

The press conference also featured the debut of two concept cars: the eco-sprinter and eco-speedster, styled by Mercedes-Benz's design studio in California. The cars were similar to the eventual Smart City-Coupé. No mention was made of the fact that SMH had no input in the design of these concepts, and they were badged as Mercedes-Benzes.

By the end of April 1994 MCC had set up a head office in Biel, Switzerland.

Read more about this topic:  Smart Cars

Other articles related to "origins, origin":

Lepidoptera - Etymology
... The origins of the common names "butterfly"and "moth" are varied and often obscure ... Other than that, the origin is unknown, although it could be derived from the pale yellow color of many species' wings suggesting the color of butter ... The origins of the English word moth are more clear, deriving from the Old English moððe" (cf ...
Yale - History - Origins
... Originally called the "Collegiate School", the institution opened in the home of its first rector, Abraham Pierson, in Killingworth (now Clinton) ... The school moved to Saybrook, and then Wethersfield ...
Zanja Madre - Origins
... The Zanja Madre was placed at a location close to present-day Broadway Street at the foot of the Elysian Hills by the river ... An earth and brush dam, called a toma, was created to pool up the water into the ditch which then ran along an elevated slope down to the pueblo after which it was split into multiple ditches which ran to the various portions of lowland ...
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
... X-Men Origins Wolverine is a 2009 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics' fictional character Wolverine ... X-Men Origins Wolverine was released worldwide on May 1, 2009 and their reviews were generally unfavorable, with critics considering the film and its screenplay uninspired ...

Famous quotes containing the word origins:

    Compare the history of the novel to that of rock ‘n’ roll. Both started out a minority taste, became a mass taste, and then splintered into several subgenres. Both have been the typical cultural expressions of classes and epochs. Both started out aggressively fighting for their share of attention, novels attacking the drama, the tract, and the poem, rock attacking jazz and pop and rolling over classical music.
    W. T. Lhamon, U.S. educator, critic. “Material Differences,” Deliberate Speed: The Origins of a Cultural Style in the American 1950s, Smithsonian (1990)

    The origins of clothing are not practical. They are mystical and erotic. The primitive man in the wolf-pelt was not keeping dry; he was saying: “Look what I killed. Aren’t I the best?”
    Katharine Hamnett (b. 1948)

    The settlement of America had its origins in the unsettlement of Europe. America came into existence when the European was already so distant from the ancient ideas and ways of his birthplace that the whole span of the Atlantic did not widen the gulf.
    Lewis Mumford (1895–1990)