Although sales have started strongly for the combined Renault-Smart project, both companies are looking at ways to increase the total annual output of this unique rear-engined platform.
According to the latest sales figures, Renault shifted just over 10,000 Twingos in February alone and Smart about 3700 each of its models.
This suggests that the Fortwo and Twingo - which are built together at Renault’s Novo Mesto factory in Slovenia - could achieve an annual combined production of more than 160,000 units.
However, the Smart-Twingo platform shares very little with any other car, in addition to the drivetrain being substantially unique. So an annual production run of 300,000 would probably be seen as ideal for the factory’s longer-term profitability.
Indeed, Mercedes announced last year that it wanted to see individual production lines under individual managers and has a target of building five different model variants on each production line.
Judging by the current state of new car sales in Europe, it seems Renault must also be tempted to work with Mercedes on a rugged baby SUV. Supermini-sized models are already a smash hit with European motorists and it seems likely that city-car-sized crossovers will be the next significant trend.
Figures for February show that the Renault Captur is now the 13th best-selling car in Europe, having shifted 13,794 units, only a handful of registrations behind the Ford Focus.
Any Smart crossover is expected to be at least two and a half years away. It could be slightly longer than today’s Forfour, which is just 3.75 metres long, as a result of the styling demands of more aggressive-looking front and rear bumpers. But it will retain its extremely tight turning circle and useful 2.2m-long interior load length. Prices could start at about £12,400.
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