The smart fortwo is a very progressive car – and so is its point of origin, a factory brimming with innovation. Trailing the clever production process of the new smart fortwo, we stop at logistics, paint shop, assembly line, and quality control to meet the pros who bring the car to life.
If you need a few more pure and prime examples of the famous Bauhaus credo ”form follows function” in action, a look at smartville is all it takes. One of the world’s most modern and innovative car manufacturing sites at its inauguration in 1997, the smart fortwo factory at Hambach, France, leads the way in several aspects.
Its most obvious and striking element: the structure’s plus sign silhouette, eschewing the standard shoe box shape of regular assembly plants. This clever feature alone optimizes supplier access to the assembly line and thus streamlines production: All major suppliers were encouraged to set up shop right on site. This handy feature not only saves time, but also makes the factory more of a village than a mere plant.
As part of our peek behind the scenes, we invite you to meet four smartville ‘residents’ who interact with every single car that passes the line before leaving the factory gates: from logistics project manager Christophe Balthazard and paintshop coordinator Alexandre Zettl to engineer Claire Mutin, who schedules the production process, and finally Raphäel Schuster, responsible for spot checking the quality of the new vehicles with white gloves under bright neon lights.
While it might sound trivial, the car’s compact dimensions go hand in hand with a relatively small staff. For many of them, it feels just like a family. And beyond the smart concept itself, this may well contribute to the “happy car” stamp the smart has carried ever since its introduction.
Photos: Philipp Wente
Camera and Footage: Julian Springhart for earlybirdpictures / Daimler AG
Cut: Nina Stangl for Firsteight Berlin
Music: Miguel B – The Cross