When it comes to the automotive industry, few vehicles have arrived with as much controversy, love and fanfare as the Smart Car. The Smart Car was the brain child of watchmaker Nicolas Hayek, who used the same manufacturing strategies and personalization features in his car prototype that he used in his popular Swatch Watches.
In 1994, Hayek and Daimler-Benz AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz cars, joined forces in founding Micro Compact Car AG (MCC). The company released the first two concept smart cars: the eco-sprinter and the eco-speedster. By 1998, the company began releasing smart cars throughout Europe. However, because the smart car failed to meet US emissions regulations, it would take another 10 years to arrive officially in the USA.
Due to its small build and unique style, the smart car received mixed reviews in the US. While some questioned the manliness of the vehicle, others signed their names on a 12 month long waiting list to purchase the vehicle.
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