I’m Julia Knittel, and over the past year I have been working on a new project called “smart cities,” which tests out some new things for smart in various cities around the world.
First of all, what is the smart cities project? The Head of smart global, Dr. Annette Winkler, was inspired when she noticed that certain cities around the world (think of Paris and Rome, for example) had overwhelmingly adopted smart into their culture, to the extent that she often saw as many as 5-10 smarts parked on every street. Thinking there must be lessons to be learned from these cities that could be applied to other urban centers around the world, Dr. Winkler developed the smart cities project with the aim to nurture the smart culture and bring more smarts to the street via owner benefits and other ideas.
So we started with 10 pilot cities around the world. Cities were chosen based on quantitative and qualitative info, e.g. dense urban center where parking has traditionally been an issue, where mobility and sustainability is in the focus and where investment have been made into infrastructure for electric vehicles. We also looked for places that share the same smart progressive mindset of ecology, economy, and practicality.
In the United States, the pioneer cities selected to start this pilot in 2013, were Portland, OR and San Francisco, CA. I’ve been working with the local U.S. smart centers in these cities to develop great programs for owners and prospects alike, spread the word of smart and get more people exposed to smart. It’s been a great team effort so far!
Other smart cities around the world include:
And now for some great examples of things we have done over the last year:
On-car advertising: As our owners are our biggest advocates we had the idea to put advertising on their cars to promote their local smart center. With the help of a company called adverCar, we asked 50 local volunteers to put some fun decals on their car for 3 months and we paid them $100 per month for it. In return they generated some great buzz for us around town.
Discounted parking and designated parking spots: We’re working with local parking lot and garage owners to offer premium parking opportunities to smart owners, including discounts, free 2 hour parking or reserved spots at select garages. For the future, we also want to look into parking spots with electric charging stations.
Presence at local events: We think it’s important to still focus on awareness and bringing the car to the people, so we’re getting smart out to as many local events as possible. There is still a lot of curiosity for our vehicle from consumers who haven’t had the chance to sit in one or test drive one, particularly the electric drive. Once people actually get into a smart and see how roomy it is inside and how fun it is to drive, we see a definite shift in consideration. That shift leads to more smarts on the road, and that’s something we can all appreciate.
smart spots mobile app: We’ve released a smart-centric parking app in San Francisco that allows smart owners to search for spots that are naturally only 8–11 feet long making it perfect for a smart. The app also lets users share and upload smart-size parking spots that they see. That just means less time looking for parking, and more time doing whatever it is you’re doing. Check out the app and download it here for iphone or Android:
I hope you’ve all enjoyed learning a little about this project. We’re constantly developing more, so keep an eye out for what we have in store in the future. It has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful experience trying out new ideas and working with the diverse smart community.
Looking forward to talking again soon,
Managing Director, smart cities USA