This is not exactly the golden age of microcars. Indeed, at a time when gasoline is cheap and looks like it will stay cheap, can Smart really hope to grow?
On this delicate question, Smart CEO Annette Winkler paused for a moment while being interviewed at the Geneva auto show.
"I have to focus," she said, "because I have 10 arguments in my mind for why we will grow."
"The most important," she continued, "is that I am pretty sure there is a downsizing trend in the industry, particularly for cars -- speaking globally. And just look at the number of people who want a big car but say, "Let's have a second or third car.'
"Plus the number of cities with lack of space is still increasing, especially in China, where there are 150 cities with 1 million people. If you see all this and then see where we are -- that is the answer."
Smart's strategy is to focus on these big, bustling metropolises. In the U.S., Winkler said, the brand is doing well in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and, more recently, Miami.
"Smart can grow; it can grow in the Smart cities we are focusing on," she said. "We had an all-time [global] sales record last year" of 145,000 cars.
Still, when Smart announced last month that it would sell only electric vehicles in the U.S. and Canada, it did cause some to wonder whether it was the beginning of a broader retreat for the brand.
"Really? No. It's not true at all," Winkler said. "The people driving the Smart are challenging the status quo and are very open to alternative drives," Winkler said. "If I have to continuously support [internal] combustion and electric, this costs much more than if I focus on one much more. So I focus on the one more customers will adopt and will like."