The new Smart Fortwo and Smart Forfour Electric Drive vehicles will be launched simultaneously in 2016, featuring all-new technology including a newly developed electric motor and batteries.
Smart boss Annette Winkler confirmed the launch date at the Paris motor show, but admitted that there were no clear projections for how the latest-generation electric cars would sell.
'On the old model, around 5% of sales were electric cars,' said Winkler, 'but it is clear that electric drive is an emerging market. The uncertainty is how far it will go.'
As before, the electric Smarts will be built on the same production lines as the standard cars, meaning that there is less pressure to hit set production volumes to make the cars financially profitable.
However, Smart does expect its Car2Go car hire scheme to continue expanding around the world, and there is a growing interest among a niche of Chinese buyers towards small, environmentally friendly vehicles. Winkler is also hoping that import duties could be relaxed on zero-emissions vehicles imported to China.
'There are a number of situations around the world which, if they change, could dramatically alter the appeal of our vehicles and result in substantial sales,' said Winkler. 'We know electric drivetrains offer the best city driving experience, but we are now waiting for them to become more popular.'