The idea behind the smart car was to create a vehicle easy to park and short enough to allow "nose-in" parking. Its length of 250 centimeters would equal the width of a regular parking slot, allowing two or three Smarts to park in the same space as one normal car. The project, started by Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch, was nicknamed the "Swatchmobile". The name Smart is an acronym for Swatch Mercedes ART. Intended to use innovative features (such as a hybrid engine) and be affordable for young people, the Smart had similar design objective to the Citroën 2CV of the 1940s.
In 1993 Mercedes-Benz started a feasibility study on a subcompact car. Together with the Swatch Group Ltd. they founded the Micro Compact Car AG in 1994. The Smart city-coupé celebrates its world première at the IAA in Frankfurt (Germany) in 1997 and is one year successfully launched in nine European countries. By now, the Smart is available in 37 countries all over the world and was sold over 750,000 times."