• Jun 15, 2009
2008 Smart Fortwo - Click above for a high-res image gallery

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 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.



[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just like Hummer, they're saturating the niche... give it 3 years and they will become as unsold as H2s.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Smart is a one trick pony if I ever saw one.

        If these things got 50 MPG, I could maybe understand why someone would purchase one. But these things are glorified go-carts.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Overpriced. Overhyped. Lacking standard features for this market like useable cupholders and a smooth transmission. Only one outdated model and all other products have been cancelled. The brand itself has been bleeding red ink for Mercedes. This is a brand without a future.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You don't call yourself "Tool" for nothing, do you?

        The ForTwo is about tackling parking problems in dense urban areas, not about fuel economy. People in parts of the world which enjoy fuel-efficient engines can get cars the size of a Mondeo achieving 60mpg.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They wouldn't have any problem selling them if THEY'D JUST FIX THAT CRAPTACULAR TRANSMISSION. Doing the Herky Jerky while waiting...for...the...thing... to shift gears caused us to cancel our purchase.

      Fix it and it will sell.

      ...and yes, I did try the new-and-improved version. It still herks and jerks
        • 5 Years Ago
        You were driving it like an Automatic and not a Manual. It is not an Automatic, and can not be driven like one.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks like the one trick pony is running out of steam. They are starting to show up on used car lots and just wait till their resale value tanks as it did in the UK. We know about the lousy tranny but how about the lousy ride. R&T tested slalom speed to be the same as a Dodge Durango. At one time, about 6 years ago, they were offering them with a 1,000 Euro rebate-big discounts on the convertible model. I still say they should try to market this transportation device with the slogan "better than the bus". Flawed design...flawed execution. The Toyota/Scion IQ will post the final obituary on this sad piece of automotive history.
        • 5 Years Ago
        JP Hedin: the value of almost all cars in the UK tank because the market is saturated. It's childs play to buy a 2 year old Vecra or Mondeo for 25-30% of its original list price.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Smart just announces the new models for 2010:

      NotSo and the ever popular NotVery

      My bicycle has a longer wheelbase.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Driving the slowest and goofiest looking car in America wasn't incentive enough?

      • 5 Years Ago
      Taking our Prius down to see my son at basketball camp, I told my wife (as I glanced up in the rearview) that I had never been passed by a golf cart on the highway before. :)

      Little thing was doing 70 mph or faster. (I have driven them. They suck, transmission wise)
      • 5 Years Ago
      This car is a novelty and only a novelty. It doesn't offer great mileage given the diminutive dimensions. It doesn't seat four. It doesn't come cheap. It doesn't handle well. Doesn't look pretty.

      The only benefit for this car is parking it in spaces that are tight. But in the US as far as I know, there aren't half spaces offered for metered parking.

      I think the people that are buying this are single people with no friends that want to make an eco statement by being as polar to an SUV in terms of girth.

      A Honda Fit offers much more practicality and fun for the money. If anyone bought with their head, they would buy something else.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Bloke, then keep your POS Fortwo, and your snotty attitude, in Europe and STFU. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a 2010 Ford Taurus SHO. A real car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Not surprised. It's too small for its MPG ratings. People would've bought them if it got 55+ mpg. As it stands, it's not much more efficient than most sub-compacts, has less power, and is much less practical.

      Larger products from Smart have more of a chance.

      Speaking towards the guy above me, I totally agree, especially an Abarth 500.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They're actually not as bad to drive if you shift manually and "help" the tranny by lifting off and rolling back on the throttle on shifts, as if it was a manual. I found that it actually seemed to like that and drove a lot smoother. Not that I think you should have to work so hard to get that, however...

      Begs the question, "why no manual?"; I mean, if this is just targeted at economy customers, I think the issue of practicality is going to weigh more heavily than maybe they thought. On the other hand, as a two-seater with an available soft-top and presumably better (& more fun) driving experience with an M/T than the current car, it's possible that it might have been easier to forgive lack of practicality (and fuel economy that isn't as high as the more practical hybrids out there). You don't have to have road-owning performance by the numbers to win over people looking for Fun To Drive (enter Miata as evidence) but, rather, the experience of engaging and easy driving experience (again, enter Miata as evidence). As somewhat of a skeptic (as I am with most seemingly over-hyped products), I came away from my extended drive imagining a (more) fun little run-about that still offered the potential for easy 40+mpg. Given that, I'd consider it, since I am a strong proponent for both guilt-free driving & passionate driving experience regardless of eco-leaning; It might actually fill my desires. Brabus chassis tune and you might have me without much of a struggle.

      And, the M/T would cut less into the profit margins, especially since it's already available in other markets.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is where Penske really needs to change their marketing information. The Smart does *not* have an Automatic transmission available for any price. Every Smart you've seen (or maybe driven) *is* a manual. A clutchless manual, which means you are still supposed to shift it like a manual. If you try to drive it like an "American Automatic" (ie, flooring the accelerator, never lifting your foot from the floor and waiting for the computer driven *clutch* to disengage, switch gears for you, then re-engage) you are going to have a very rough ride. The transmission does not have a torque convertor.
        • 5 Years Ago
        in which market is M/T available? I'd like to get one with M/T, but last time I checked, neither British nor French markets had manual transmission available...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, I know that it's an automated manual (AMT) but decidedly not a DCT, which can be tuned to be less sluggish than a single clutch AMT, as in the Smart, which is much more challenged in trying to offer smooth shifts that are also relatively quick...

        One of the biggest problems with either, unfortunately, regarding the lack of torque converter, is the lack of torque multiplication, which is even more noticeable off the line. Thankfully, it's relatively lightweight so it's not as bad as, for example, a larger/heavier car can be (think Maserati Cambio Corse)... but still a bit slow on the uptick.

        I would still like to drive a conventional clutch (pedal) equipped M/T Smart
        • 5 Years Ago
        My mistake... Wishful thinking, perhaps? I could have sworn that I'd seen a review of a non-North American fortwo with a good old-fashioned M/T.

        On the one hand, definitely easier to manage complexity-wise by offering only the one trans but, on the other, it's handicapped with only one sub-par trans that you literally have to either love or leave.

        Sorry about the confusion on my part.

      • 5 Years Ago
      You mean... the greenies were WRONG?! Say it ain't so! *Everybody* wants a Smart car! They don't need no damn incentives!
      • 5 Years Ago
      How exactly is 4.2% financing an incentive? I just financed a new car through my credit union for 3.74%.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Overpriced, bad trany, premium fuel, about the same mpg's as a civic... target niche market is smaller than they thought
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