The idea behind the “Smart car” was to create a vehicle easy to park and short enough to allow “nose-in” parking. Its length of 98.4 in would equal the width of a regular parking slot, allowing two or three Smarts to park in the space as one normal car.
The project, started by Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch was nicknamed the “Swatchmobile”. The name Smart is an acronym for Swatch Mercedes ART. Intended to use innovative features (such as a hybrid engine) and be affordable for young people.
Swatch CEO Nicolas Hayek sought an established car maker to produce his Swatch car. After General Motors reviewed and rejected the project as potentially unprofitable, Hayek found a partner in Volkswagen Due to VW’s own financial weakness at the time, plans never reached a final stage so Swatch teamed up with Daimler-Benz The purpose-built factory complex Smartville in France was established in 1994 as a joint-venture of Daimler-Benz and Swatch.