Penske Automotive Group, distributors of the Smart Fortwo here in the United States, recorded an impressive 24,622 total sales of the diminutive city car in 2008 and dealers widely reported that they could have sold even more had they been available. With that in mind, the nascent company set what seemed at the time like a realistic sales target for 25,000 units in 2009. That may have been a bit optimistic.
So far this year, Smart USA has sold just 7,451 Fortwos, which is down nearly 16% over the first five months of 2008. May sales, though, were down an alarming 56.6% to 1,169 units. To stem the rushing tide of order cancellations and slow sales, Penske has decided to offer its first-ever incentives on the Fortwo. From now until the end of July, buyers may qualify for 4.2% financing through Daimler Financial Services for the purchase of a new 2009 Smart Fortwo.
If this incentive has a positive impact on sales, expect it to be extended a bit longer. Further, Penske is considering making it possible for dealerships to order new cars without accepting the refundable $99 reservation from a customer that's currently required, which could have the desirable effect of placing more new vehicles on dealer lots for buyers to choose from.