The Smart fortwo couldn't have come to the United States at a better time. Skyrocketing fuel prices and a dearth of fuel efficient vehicles gave Daimler's Tiny Tim a big push to the tune of 25,000 units for the year, far surpassing Smart's goal of 15,000 units. Smart's success is also another feather in the cap of Roger Penske. Penske is the only US distributor for Smart, with only 74 dealers spanning 35 states, and surprisingly, smart achieved its considerable success without using television as an advertising medium.
The fortwo used an extensive online marketing campaign that included $99 down payments. 100,000 people sent in their checks for $99, and Penske says about 55% of those down payments will result in sales. The Penske Automotive Group is expecting another 25,000 sales for 2009, and six more dealers are going to be added. What's left to be seen is whether the fortwo can sustain success if $2 per gallon gasoline sticks around for an extended period of time.
[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]