In conversation with Roland Staehler, CEO smart Nederland B.V.
In a Europe-wide comparison, the Dutch EV market is way ahead regarding many aspects that ensure a convenient EV-way of life. With more than one in five new passenger vehicles purchased being 100% electric, the infrastructure around e-mobility is continuously growing, increasing convenience for drivers of all-electric vehicles even further.
With this leading role for EV-usage across Europe and the smart #1 waiting in the wings to conquer Dutch territory, we have taken the opportunity to find out more about an exciting year ahead and the current as well as future mobility needs of the Dutch from Roland Staehler, CEO smart Nederland B.V.
6 questions to Roland Staehler, CEO smart Nederland B.V., who has been supporting smart to write the next successful chapter of the brand since July 2021.
1. The Netherlands is considered a European pioneer regarding EVs. What benefits will the smart #1 offer the Dutch?
“We are Europe's 4th largest EV market, so electric mobility is mainstream already. With many EV brands launching, customers look for a convincing value proposition. Our smart #1 is hitting the bull’s eye with its head-turning design, class-leading performance and super-modern connectivity. The package is a winner for city and long-distance, agility and comfort, space and versatility – affordable premium style for everyone young and young-at-heart. And in our market the #1 is the only BEV below EUR 50k able to tow more than 1500 kg, making it very attractive for many Dutch travelling with caravans and boat trailers. “
2. What actions are planned in the Netherlands to enter the market?
“The brand smart is ready for an energetic relaunch with the first car of the new line-up, the #1. From summer onwards we will have our easy-to-use e-commerce platform live and in parallel also the shop-in-shop retail presence in selected Mercedes-Benz showrooms, seamlessly integrating the digital and physical channels. Test drives will be possible soon already at all 14 outlets. Additionally, we will go out there to meet and connect with people interested in EVs. In September, the smart #1 will be presented at the EV Experience in Zandvoort, followed by the Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven in October and closing the roadshow at the Fully Charged LIVE exhibition in Amsterdam in November. Our digital marketing, media and community activities, and commercial partnerships in the market will ensure visibility and awareness. We are convinced, once you know about the #1, you’ll want to experience it. Once you have experienced it, you’ll want it.”
3. How do you see smart’s role in the future of e-mobility?
“smart’s broader appeal with attractive mobility companions like our #1 and the recently unveiled #3 allows us to effectively contribute to further growth in the BEV market. We provide premium products and service experiences to our customers at affordable prices without any compromises regarding technology and quality. Our customers can always expect us to think ahead and innovate. At smart, we are future optimists, always looking for new solutions our customers will love. smart will always be the brand for forward thinkers."
4. What are the trends, opportunities and challenges in 2023? How is smart able to fulfil these?
“Despite a challenging geopolitical and economic environment, we live in a time of unprecedented change in the field of mobility. New technologies and players dynamically change the competitive landscape. The features packaged into the smart #1 trim lines provide customers with an array of safety and comfort features and a premium look & feel unprecedented in this class. This is not restricted to driving and well-being, it extends to the way the car interacts with the customer. With state-of-the-art connectivity, the #1 becomes a real companion, fully integrated into customers’ lives. Customers get personalized support through an interactive avatar, the already well-known fox visible on the centre screen. Yet, in a mature BEV market like The Netherlands, customers expect concrete further contributions to sustainable mobility than just avoiding tailpipe emissions, that’s why I am particularly happy about our #1 making car sharing so easy."
5. What is the status of car sharing in the Netherlands? What role will car shareability play in the future in your opinion?
“The Dutch are taking the sustainability challenges connected with mobility very seriously and are more than ready to explore new options. Sustainable multi-modal transport is common in people’s daily life, combining zero-emission public transport, and micro-mobility – primarily the beloved classic bicycle but also e-bikes, cargo-e-bikes, e-scooters etc. – with the usage of electric vehicles. And the Dutch love to have flexible options. It helps that usually, they do not have to cover large distances to get around. So, it’s no surprise that car sharing is growing fast in the Netherlands. Combining flexible ownership options, like subscription models, with the possibility to share a car with other like-minded people will be a winner in the future development of individual mobility in the Netherlands."
6. What needs to be worked on so e-mobility can be accessible to everyone?
“After overcoming the biggest supply bottlenecks in the industry, the accessibility of e-mobility will benefit from tech innovations, especially regarding batteries and power management, as well as further economies of scale, resulting eventually in even more range, lower vehicle weights and on top of that also lower prices. We encourage governments to continue to incentivize the transition to locally-emission-free mobility. It’s crucial to keep the momentum going."
Thank you very much for the insights, Roland.