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Smart #1 Concept debuts the all-electric future of Daimler's troubled brand

This sleek four-seat EV has a 3D-globe infotainment interface and funky lighting.

Smart says this is a production-ready concept.

Daniel Golson/Roadshow

Daimler's Smart brand of urban runabouts has struggled mightily to find sales traction over the years, so much so that it recently departed the North American market. That may turn out to be a bit of a shame as the company debuted the Smart #1 Concept, a promising new vehicle that points the way to an all-electric future for the brand, Monday at the IAA Munich Motor Show.

According to Smart, this compact four-seat crossover is a near-production concept, although the production model will have five seats. The glossy-white bodywork is cleanly surfaced, with the nose marked out by a gaping front fascia and small triangular headlamps. A sweeping floating roof with panoramic glass is painted in a striking contrasting bronze finish, and the roof itself is ringed in atmospheric lighting.

At 169 inches (4.29m) long, the Smart is no longer as small as the Fortwo. In fact, it's about the same size as today's Buick Encore or Mini Countryman.

Far more striking than the exterior of the car is the interior of the cabin, which boasts size-above interior spacing and a central 12.8-inch infotainment screen that features over-the-air updates for nearly the entire vehicle. The system is operated by a "three-dimensional globe" and features an advanced AI system to learn the driver's preferences over time and offer predictive functions.

Unfortunately, we don't have any information on what powers the Smart #1 Concept, other than that it's a full electric vehicle: No motor count, no power output, no battery size, nada. All Daimler disclosed is that the concept -- like the eventual production model -- rides atop a new dedicated EV architecture.

Outside of some of the interior's fantastical touches and novelty "rhythmic light show," there doesn't appear to be too much here that won't see production. Daimler isn't saying when Concept #1 will become a production reality, but it can't come soon enough.