FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Daimler's (>> Daimler AG) Smart brand of two-seater cars is to add electric scooters to its range from 2014, following up on this year's launch of a new battery-powered version of its Smart ForTwo car, it said on Thursday.
"With this step, we are adding a further important component to our smart mobility concept for urban mobility," said Joachim Schmidt, head of sales and marketing at the Mercedes-Benz Cars division.
The Smart ForTwo electric car will be launched in the market this summer, with Smart hoping for sales in 2013 climbing into five figures, a spokeswoman said.
Customers will be able to choose between purchasing the battery or just leasing it.
Including the 19 percent value-added tax levied in Germany, this would cost a customer either nearly 24,000 euros ($31,100)or 19,000 euros with a battery rental charge of less than 70 euros per month.
Smart had once attempted to expand its model range well beyond the quirky two-seater car which it currently produces, to include a roadster and a four-seat subcompact that was built by Mitsubishi (>> Mitsubishi Motors) in the Netherlands. There were even plans for a small SUV version.
But unlike BMW's (>> Bayerische Motoren Werke AG) Mini brand, which has successfully stretched its line-up to include models like a longer estate and an SUV, Smart failed to gain as strong a brand image compared with the Mini.
Eventually losses ballooned at Smart, forcing management to shelve plans for further models and its cut its product line back to the ForTwo car in a reorganization that was estimated at the time to cost over 1 billion euros.
(Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Greg Mahlich)