• Mar 25, 2008
Click above for a high-res gallery of the smart fortwo.

Roger Penske, the CEO of the company's namesake and the sole importer of the smart brand into the U.S., says that with demand at its current level, dealers could offload 40,000 fortwos to customers this year. The only problem: the U.S. market is only getting 25,000.

Penske is currently talking with Mercedes-Benz, smart's parent company, to see if it can ship more fortwos Stateside in the coming months, but that looks unlikely considering that the smart factory is running at full bore for the year.

Smart expects to sell 3,000 fortwos in the first quarter of this year through the 67 dealers (mainly Mercedes-Benz dealerships that have bought a franchise) currently in the U.S. That number is expected to increase to 74 by the end of the year. Although pre-order cancellation numbers haven't been officially released, some dealers are anticipating that around 25-percent of potential buyers that put down the required $99 deposit might opt out of the diminutive coupe. Thankfully, smart dealers in the U.S. have agreed not to mark up the cars at the risk of losing their franchise, according to the president of smart USA, David Schembri.


[Source: Autoweek]


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  • 48 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      The idea of city-cars is nice and all, but what are the statistics on what kind of transportation these would be replacing? Mainly, are people purchasing them currently users of public transportation? You almost wonder if by packing cities with fewer but much larger (SUV) vehicles you would increase use of public trasport or non-vehiclular transport.
      • 6 Years Ago
      These are the stupidest cars ever! Dollar for dollar, gas prices included, your getting screwed. They have can carry only two passengers, return marginally better mpg for their size, and only come with a 2 year/24k warranty.

      THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT IS NOT THERE FOLKS!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      If you look at Canadian or Mexican market sales for the car, you will see that the world has voted NO ! to smart with their wallets. My friends in the Netherlands explain the lack of forTwos on their roads by saying that the Dutch are too practical, family oriented and that the car is only useful as a mobile billboard. My suggestion for a marketing slogan "safer than a scooter...better than a bus". How would you like to be the sales person trying to explain why the transmission is so herky-jerky, why the car rides so poorly, handles so badly (nanny esp) at .72 G per R & T. Of course there isn't a spare tire, and whats wrong with a 4 star crash rating when a 5 star rating is now the norm . The Toyota IQ is a much more practical and innovative design. Why the Dark Star built the car with a mid/rear engine & De Dion rear axle I'll never know. Imagine a dealer paying a franchise fee of reportedly $ 300K and then building a 2 Million $$ stand alone showroom. Resale values in the UK on these cars is also below average. I think the funniest thing about the first generation smart (which is probably the same on the new car)- is that when the windshield wipers are working-the car rocks back and forth. smart... the car for people with more money than sense. If you are suffering from a defecit of attention - this is the car for you.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I frankly believe the 35% rejection rate is quite low; I would put it more like 50-60%.

      for those non-believers, just go to their website. with 99 bucks from Dad's credit card and a fake driver's license number, you're in business, and your car is ordered.

      I've been by the local dealer here (smart center Chandler) and the stock units just never seem to leave. when I first went back in early February, they had at least 50 of them, all with "sold" signs. a week later, the whole bunch was still there, minus five new ones. however, there were now two used ones there, both with less than 500 miles. the next week, ten more were gone, with an additional three used ones. it seems there are quite a few new owners who must not like them...and that doesn't even take into consideration the simple fact that the new owners obviously aren't coming for the car they ordered. for anyone out there who has every special-ordered a car, you know you'd be down there no later than an hour after it rolls off the truck.

      another much more serious consideration: a really lousy warranty, 2 years/24,000 miles. this must be the worst factory warranty in the USA, especially for a new, unproven vehicle. no need to mention how long it's been available in the rest of the world; none of them received this 3 cylinder Mitsubishi engine like we have.

      and speaking of mechanicals, new owners will have one choice for service of any kind; the dealer! I'm sure that engine stuffed in there will be a service nightmare, too.

      what is the going rate for labor at a Mercedes dealer? $150 per hour? more?

      AZMike
      • 6 Years Ago
      DrSmart,

      I looked at the Canadian sales for the Smart since its introduction in late 2005. http://www.thesmart.ca/index.cfm?NewsID=271&id=6604
      The satetement below is extracted from the sales results summary.
      "In short, the diminutive car performed large in every way - including its volume. When Mercedes-Benz Canada decided to import and distribute the fortwo coupes and cabriolets, it had a goal of 3,000 units for the three year period. With continuous soaring sales and repeated sales records throughout the last three years (including record breaking results in several of the last few months), Mercedes-Benz Canada sold more than three times its original smart car planning volume. "
      I find it very interesting that someone so knowledgeable as to classify themseleves as "Dr Smart" would interpret the actual sales at less than successful. If you are going to offer information, it would be nice if there was some truth tossed in for balance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i drove 3 cylinder cars for 20 years, i replaced my 1998 metro with this car, it is much better than the metro and gets about 16% better milage in the same driving situations, i feel safer at 70mph in a smart than 60mph in the metro and my metro had 195/50-15 wheels/tires on it. nobody looks at you twice in a metro, mercedes or porsche. people are always smiling, waving, giving thumbs up, motioning me to roll down the window, so they can ask questions (if i would have known this, i would have gotten power windows!) people are always looking at it in parking lots, when i'm in a resturaunt, i blink the lights/beeper with the remote when people look inside it... i just hate the fact that there is no spare, i've only had one flat in 30+ years (picked up a sheet metal screw in a body shop's gravel lot) i've never had a spare down, so it's just a minor annoyance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm glad to see that Smart is doing well. I'm hoping that it's success will provide the incentive for Toyota to bring their iQ to the States. An interesting cross between a Smart and something a little bigger, as it has a "back seat" for an extra person if need be.

      www.iqcolony.com for more on this interesting car.....
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ultimo Dragon,

      Tow with it? WTF are you talking about? You must have me confused with someone else when you talk about "unreasonable expectations" in regards to using the Smart like a truck.

      As for your low speed city driving you need to understand that was a 50kph crash. That's 30mph. 30mph is a speed that is attained all the time in every city in the USA, even here in Manhattan, every single day. I wonder how long till one of these things gets pinballed by a taxi and takes out a bunch of pedestrians as it careens onto the sidewalk.

      The Smart has had been bleeding money with ever poorer sales in Europe for years. Europe is a place with more city driving, more congestion, less parking, higher fuel prices and lower in town speeds than the US. If the Smart is tanking in Europe then it is not going to find salvation in the US.

      After the initial buzz wears off in a year or two they are going to have a hard time moving these little pinballs... and a 2y/24m warranty sure doesn't help things.
      HotRodzNKustoms
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't think the market would have accepted them so readily 3 years ago but I can't wait until my red and black passion cab comes in!
        • 6 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        ZAPWORLD, over three years ago, paid to have the crash testing and EPA testing performed and certified for the Smartfortwo. Upon successful completion, they offered to purchase $500,000,000 of the cars. MB refused the order and although ZAP had defined the market potential, four years later MB thought sales would only be 15,000 units per years a sale price 1/2 the amount ZAP had planned. When less intelligent mangement is born they will flock to auto companies.
        HotRodzNKustoms
        • 6 Years Ago
        @HotRodzNKustoms
        oh to add to all this you don't want to flood the market with these things, it could destroy the market for them. Just like when Chrysler had PT Cruiser (yes I know most you duys don't like them) as a limited production car their was a 2year+ waiting list. They uncorked production and a year later they could not give them away!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Not that I'm in favor of driving Ford F-250s, but his logic is fine. If you drive a Smart, you're on the winning side of the F=MA equation exactly 1% of the time. Switch to an F-250 and that increases slightly to 99%.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Damn, Weblogs still hasn't fixed the Reply button? That message was supposed to show up about 1.5 pages ago.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just got the latest Car and Driver and they test a Smart. The MPG was not encouraging, to say the least. Thirty-two (32) MPG. That's barely better than my 4 year old Hyundai with a 4-speed auto (about 28-30MPG on average). The official EPA figures are 32/40. If you're buying it for gas-saving reasons, you're better off getting a hybrid with real-world MPG 39-45MPG. It looks like the only real reason to get it now is to be hip or if you live in a congested city.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The smart is anything but fun or hip. Europe has has Smarts for years & they have been a sales F-L-O-P!!!

      MB has been discounting & literally giving them away for years... sorry but thats not pure profit for a automotive company is you have to underwrite rebates & gimacks like $99 sign up deals.

      Yes, the Smart is a "city car" & in Europe with more city driving/ commuting the cars bombed until MB started hatching plans to dump them. Between Smart, & Chrysler parent company Daimler experienced a helluva lot of red ink.

      BTW, I drove the four-two & the roadster... I worked for DCX in Auburn Hills. These cars are glorified golf carts... with better crash protection.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The sales have exceeded projections by 67% and could exceed projections by 167% if the cars were available.
        The $99 reservation was intended to establish a projected demand which obvuiously understated the demand.
        I have noted in the photos of various friends who have travelled to Europe a common trend of returning with a photo of a SMART car, even though it is not a landmark or a photo of family member.
        The Smart is unique and has been seen in numerous movies. If you cannot see the potential for sales in the US, don't buy Penske stock.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Many car lines are reported to start off hot... to be the next "Gotta-Have-It" car... only to find out later it was part of the marketing hype to promote the car/ truck.

        I'm still waiting for Honda to offer $99 deals on their Fit. What about Toyota pimping their Yaris? Perhaps Mazda will need to get the Mazda 3 down to $99 to increase sales? My point is that there is a reason your friends are able to rent the Smart in numerous Rent-A-Car agencies.

        United Auto Group (Penske) can do what they have to to get people into their show rooms. Mercedes is the one who will be underwriting the car... (& as stated they have been doing it for years) MB are the ones who's stock concerns I'd focus on.

        BTW, Daimler Benz has used similar business practices in their other divisions to the protests of their stock holders. Smart's low sales are not new... so why will America accept a car designed specifically for Europe that the Europeans have rejected???

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