The smart crossblade Sets the Stage

concept urban vehicleThe smart crossblade spelled a new course for its car designs from the outset. It seemed as though the designers were saying: “set me free.” The original smart car design was purposely engineered to be delivered to new owners without doors, a roof or even a windshield.

The marketing ploy was intended to deliver a sense of ultimate freedom to drivers. There was little to obstruct their views while traveling in their crossblades – they could have the wind blowing their hair back and view an unobstructed sky above. It was intended to be an unparalleled driving experience – and for a few drivers, it was.

A narrow wind deflector with dark tinting was installed in smart crossblades just above the drivers’ compartment to offer the only wind diffusion in the car. Replacing the conventional steel doors were innovative tempered steel safety “bows” which were located at the driver and passenger shoulder level.

Assisted with a pressurized spring, the doors moved upward for ease of use.

In 2001, introduction of the smart crossblade took place at the Geneva Auto Show. It was unveiled with the promise of a concentration on a elimination of every unnecessary component – a “reduction to the max” as it was called. That promise was fulfilled with the crossblade. Response from both show attendees and press was unmistakably positive and the crossblade had the further impact of leaving many reviewers bewildered with such an innovative design.

wide open fun drivingIt was the decision of smart to release a small production number of the crossblade. A year later, in June 2002, smart produced 2000 of the crossblades as individually numbered units to this select group of eager buyers.

Buyers were also treated to the first incarnation of the smart-developed Tridion occupant safety system as part of a minimalist, but highly capable engineering and structural component. B-pillars, door sills and a rollover bar were part of the safety system that incorporated matte titanium-colored plastic panels. Adding to the futuristic, minimalist embellishment were stark black painted wheels to underscore the minimalist approach to the design.

When designing the interior, smart did not forget to incorporate the other necessary ingredients in the crossblade that were needed to cope with the wind, sun and any other adverse conditions caused by the weather. Interior surfaces including the seats and dashboard were upholstered with water-resistant, bright red plastic materials.

In keeping with the principal ideal of making the crossblade a “study in contrasts,” the backrests were done in black. Even the floor of the smart was lined as part of an undivided plastic “tub.” In the event of a thunderstorm, four separate water-diverting channels ensured the water would be dispersed through the floor. This tub-type arrangement also had the secondary purpose of protecting electric cables from the effects of water or moisture. Each of the seats incorporated the same kinds of water-dispersing channels and the driver airbag was protected by a water shroud of water-resistant fabric.

When knowledge of impeding inclement weather was known, the interior of the crossblade could be protected against the elements, and even the potentially damaging rays of the sun when needed. A weather-resistant, black nylon tarp could be stretched over the interior and fastened to the body for maximum protection.

The exclusive group of owners in 2002 embraced the new smart crossblades as personal expressions of independence and open-air attitudes to make short commutes with the smart – fun. This became the primary objective of all future designs and concepts for smart cars. The open concept of the two-seater began the niche for smart cars; future models were developed with this mindset. Future evolutions of the smart were to produce efficient, fun ultra-urban vehicles for a new breed of owners.