Smart is ready for the future

PETALING JAYA: With the Smart #1 electric car set to launch in Malaysia in the last quarter of 2023, local distributor Proton New Energy Technology (Pro-Net) has begun to hasten the drum beat to build public awareness about the battery electric car.

While the Smart brand of the 1990s started out as a maker and purveyor of microcars and subcompacts under the aegis of Mercedes-Benz, the latest one is bigger and has become an electric SUV, the result of a joint venture with China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.

Pro-Net aims to shape a premium ownership experience for Smart buyers.

The approach would be multi-faceted: a specially designed Smart space to engage with customers and prospects; Smart 3S centres to better serve car owners; and a Smart app to provide a holistic digital journey for car owners as they could use it to make service appointments and browse for the nearest charging station, among other benefits.

Pro-Net is also looking at improving the charging infrastructure. It is working with Gentari to add more public charging stations in the country.

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Initial plans call for the building of 20 DC chargers in 2023, with more to come by 2025. Pro-Net, a Proton subsidiary, would provide the space and power supply, while Gentari would install and operate the chargers under an agreement between the two parties.

The first charging station would be installed at the Proton Centre of Excellence HQ in Subang Jaya, while Smart dealers’ outlets would also be equipped with charging stations.

Pro-net has been on a hiring spree to build out its sales and aftersales networks in preparation for the arrival of the premium Smart #1.

It is appointing qualified dealers in the Northern, Central and Southern Region of the peninsula.

Beginning from 1997, Smart brand pioneered the creation and innovation of urban mobility.

In 2019, Smart became the world's first car maker to switch completely from a combustion engine to electric drive only.

With Mercedes-Benz and Geely joining forces (and resources) in 2019, they are developing Smart into a global provider of connected, battery-electric premium vehicles.

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Geely's global engineering network handles the engineering and development of new models; Mercedes-Benz designs the interior and exterior.

In September 2021, the Smart Concept #1 was showcased at IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich, and it was to be the precursor of the Smart #1. Six months later on April 8, 2022, the Smart #1 made its world premiere in Berlin.

In China, where superlatives reigned, 10,000 bookings were recorded in the first 24 hours when the order books were opened on April 27.

More positive news came on Nov 16 when the Smart #1 earned a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

It has been less than a year since the Smart #1 arrived on the world stage and already the stylish electric SUV has won multiple other awards and recognition in China and around the globe.

The Smart is produced in Ningbo, China. More models in the small- and compact-car segment are expected to be introduced in the coming years.

Smart #1: Designed to be the cool and trendy EV
Next model is another SUV called smart #3

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