Dieter Zetsche came to Detroit today to announce some pretty big news... not so much that SMART is coming to the U.S. (that was the worst kept secret of June 2006), but rather that Roger Penske and UnitedAuto Group Inc. will be the one doing the honors.

The SMART ForTwo will be offered in the States starting in 2008, giving DaimlerChrysler enough time to get the vehicle's safety ratings up to snuff. The automaker expects to unload 20,000 units a year -- an aggressive goal given the fact that SMART currently sells 40,000 units in 36 countries per year. The car will go head-to-head with BMW's MINI brand, which will be redesigned for the 2007 model year.

Penske owns UnitedAuto Group Inc., the second-largest dealer group in the United States.

[Source: Reuters, Automotive News]