2012 NAIAS: Too Smart for the Room

For-us 1

As Smart CEO Annette Winkler introduced the new For-us concept, she said, "We at Smart love pickups — if they are small on the outside, large on the inside, very safe and extremely comfortable." 

Whether Smart really loves pickups or not, the vehicle is quite small, with a 98-inch wheelbase and just 139.6 inches long. As you can tell, the look is hardly that of a traditional pickup truck, but the design does allow Smart to wave the flag of added versatility. But let's be clear: This is not a compact or mini regular cab pickup truck. It's a modified minicar ready to hold some luggage in an open trunk. Still, there is some interesting technology here. 

The motor in the concept is a 55-kilowatt-hour electric motor that is reported to allow for zero-to-60 mph times at or below 5 seconds. The lithium-ion battery pack can store 17.6 kwh of power and can be charged from 20 to 80 percent in about three-and-a-half hours whereas similar systems can take up to eight hours.

Admittedly, the bed area is not large, with about three feet of usable flooring space to hold cargo. There are only small changes to the standard Smart suspension on the concept, so we'd guess the payload capacity isn't much more than two fully grown adults.

The For-us concept did have two all-new Smart ebikes displayed in the cargo area. the bikes use high-performance parts such as Magura MT4 disc brakes and a USB connector for entertainment devices. The electric bikes can last as long as 60 miles and provide power assist as soon as the bike is pedaled. Pricing for the new bike and its technology was not available.

As with most concepts, no real-world or serious pricing was announced or discussed. Comedian Jon Lovitz came out to lighten up the mood with a few jokes before the For-us introduction. Whether the littlest pickup of the show makes it to production or whether it will remain the butt of a comedian's joke remains to be seen. 

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It's gonna be expensive. I hope Smart keeps trying, but I've never been fond of anything they've produced. But then, they don't offer much for a family of 4.

Many years ago Honda had a similar concept but it was much better, sportier, and more usable.

what a joke but if you live in places like NY or DC then you can take in the apt with you.

0-60 in under 5 seconds?
I'll believe it when it's no longer a concept but instead a reality.

@Ken: Not everybody has a family of four--or even three.
@ATRANK: And where did that Honda go?
@Scott: If you live in places like NY or DC something like this could be very helpful; I know a lot of other cities that could use something similar.

No, the Smart4us is not for the typical pickup driver but is intended to offer at least a little more efficient carrying capability than the typical 2-door sports coupe. If it includes tie-downs for the cargo, this could be an extremely efficient young-persons' first car or even a breadwinner's commuter up to and including carrying a few bags of mulch home from the house-and-yard store. It's simply impossible to carry certain bulky items in some cars that, if they'd been more open, they could have carried. I'm not talking about extremes, just the little, occasional stuff where sometimes you have to call on a friend or rent a truck to carry something just slightly oversized. I don't know of a single car owner that hasn't had that issue at one time or another--even Cadillac owners.

So OK, maybe it's a joke to you, but obviously it's not targeting you as a customer, it's targeting somebody else. Being that it is a 'mini' pickup, it still qualifies to get reported here.

@ Vulpine,

Cant see this joke of a truck happening,Smart car sales are very bad,they cant sell any ,nobody wants a Smart car,so who would buy this ?

Many cars on the road have more cargo room than this,small hatchbacks can carry more than this monstrosity. As for the bag of mulch my 2012 Challenger SRT-8 can carry a bag of mulch ! This Smart clunker cant carry more than a typical small el cheapo hatchback,you will still call your buddy with the truck to carry a sofa,fridge,washer,bed ect...

And most young people dont like the Smart car and many so-called youth oriented vehicles ! Look who drives Smart cars its old 50+ year olds same as most Scions I see older people drive them.

The Smart CEO said this thing is "very safe and extremely comfortable" What a load of B.S !!

The Smart car is not safe at all,it is not even recommended in any safety catagory !! Smart car is a rolling death trap !!

As for comfort,lol !! I sat in a Smart car and after 2 seconds my back hurt,leg cramps lol...Want comfort try a full size top line truck,that is safety and comfort !!!

Waiting for some real NAIAS truck news. While golf carts are fun, they're not satisfying my craving for truck news.

Smart is still around?

Smart's Business Plan:
*Make tiny car with no power that gets relatively crappy mileage...CHECK!
*Sell very few of said tiny car...CHECK!
*Make Tiny Pickup...CHECK!

...Sounds pretty Smart to me!


Even three, as you suggest, is a fail. Heck two might be a fail if you have to carry anything with. Their electric bicycle provides about equivalent capability.

I'll make a bold statement. I don't think there's a realistic market for the little electric pickup. It's designed to attract a young single person but that consumer base wouldn't be able to afford it.

What can this thing do that a typical passenger car with a trunk can't do? Calling this thing a pickup truck is like calling a Schwinn a motorcycle.

@Vulpine Ken never said every family is of four, or even three. You assumed he meant that.

Despite the fact this entire thing can fit in between the wheels of my ferd f-teenthousand, I could see it having a city application. But then again, the only thing it have over a ford fiesta or a honda fit is headspace. And that's what a bike rack is for.

Gayest looking excuse for a truck I have ever seen, bearing in mind that I have indeed seen a Ridgeline before.

I'm pretty sure this truck was meant to make fun of Americans for not buying their Smart car the way they want us to.

Smart: "Well, you'd buy it if it were a TRUCK, you dumb Yankees."

America: "We'll buy your SMART when you can make it into a decent CAR thank you very much".

I don't see many Smart cars in my neighbourhood (saw lots of them in Europe).
It might work for some, but really?
Virtually every econobox hatchback and carry a bag of mulch, or mount a roof rack for bikes or skis.
Calling it a truck doesn't neccessarily make the Smart car any more smart.
I'd buy a Ranger 4 banger (new or used) before one of these, concept or reality.
There may be a niche market, but enough to pay the bills?

You're sure not thinking like a fox, FOX.

True, Smart cars aren't all that common on the streets yet, but where I live in the Urban suburbs I know of at least three Smarts and have seen a minimum of two others. No, I'm not seeing the same three cars over and over; they're all different colors--yellow, red, blue and even one black. So you can't say "people don't want them" when some people obviously do.

Again, I can definitely see the advantage to a vehicle like this and yes, it could have easily carried a 36" TV in its box that I had to unbox and stuff into my '96 Camaro and still cracked the cabinet when I took it home. So don't tell me a hatchback can carry more than this Smart. I do have a need to occasionally carry outsized materials and honestly even my Jeep Wrangler has trouble with some of the things I try to carry. I don't have a need for a full-time pickup truck, but something like this Smart (or a Holden Ute) would be almost ideal.

@S9: Interesting you should say that about comfort, because my wife--at 6' tall and over 200 pounds (build like a linebacker)--called it a "sofa on wheels"; she said it was very comfortable and fit easily behind the wheel. Safety? Most city accidents are low-speed collisions and in such collisions the Smart is no more dangerous than a bigger car, though I'll grant getting hit by a giant 4x4 might be a different issue--then again, what idiot would drive a giant 4x4 in city center anyway?

@Ken: Two as a commuter is really a good idea. I never said this should be your primary vehicle and having any cargo bed at all is better than none--even Hummer proved that.

@Zach: Stastically, the American Family consists of two adults and 1.3 children, so a "family of four" as Ken put it is a reasonable argument. I disagree that headroom is its only advantage over a Fiesta or Honda for exactly the same reason I stated above--it at least has some cargo bed, something the others don't offer.

*waving* i LOVE my smart car. it's an 09 passion, cabriolet, that's "convertible for those of you who don't know. I had a grand caravan, bought this. it's FUN. i love it, cannot imagine me ever driving anything else. the panels are plastic, i can change the color of my car! how many of you can do that, whenever you want? i belong to a smart car club, many will switch their panels out at the meets. it's all steel under the panels. all you smart haters, do some research, look at the crash stories. it's MUCH safer than it looks, it wouldn't be on the road if it wasn't safe. as for the pick up ! i love it ! hope I am able to get one. when will it be in texas? price? i'm ready. my car has a personality that I cannot explain. never have i had a car that was this much fun, a car that makes all my troubles disapear when i get in, pop in my favorite tunes, top down hair blowing in the wind screaming to my songs. i realize many don't understand that, and i hope that one day you to can have as much fun as I am having with my car. it picks up fine for me. sure I cannot go from 0 - 60 in 4 seconds, why would I want too? is that safe? no it isn't. but I can keep up fine on the highway and pass up everyone, if i wanted too. just like any other car, you have to drive safe as well, any car is a death trap. ALL of them. drive them stupid and you are a death trap no matter what you are in. my little car has brought me much joy ! tons of smiles, by many. peace to all of you.

I never liked the style or performance of smart cars. Every time i see one i just chuckle at what a clown the driver looks like driving one. You can buy a toyota corolla, or nissan sentra, hyundai, kia, and most any other manufactures economy line cr an get the same mpg's as a smart car. But you'll have the added benefit of a good size trunk, double the horsepower (great when using the ac compressor) ad a much better resale value. This car is a vovelty act at best. I give it another 6 years an it wont be here in the US.

I have a smart car now and I think this would sell. what I would add is a sliding platform that slides out and makes the bed longer. I think the Hyundai had a concept that introduced that feature You could also make the sides out of nylon mesh to hold bigger items and not take up space when not in use! It will sell

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