Having only a single model in your stable can be problematic. Why? If public interest in that sole offering wanes, tough times are sure to follow. Buyers can't possibly resist the cute, tiny Fortwo right? Wrong. Sales have tanked for Smart, yet Roger Penske seems unfazed. Penske, whose company controls Smart dealerships nationwide, is taking the rough times in stride by remaining committed to the brand. He sees a dash of hope ahead leading to a Smart revival, but admits getting there won't be easy.
Penske suggests a turnaround for Smart will be driven by Daimler's ability to expand the vehicle lineup. The brand must follow Mini's lead by offering several variants on a single model. Mini has everything from coupes to crossovers planned for the future, yet Smart has left us with one vehicle that's unable to convince us of its worthiness. We hear about a possible Forfour model, but are waiting and seeing for now.
Even though Penske supports the brand, he may be driven away because Daimler can purchase a 50 percent share of the Smart dealership network at the end of Penske's current five-year agreement. Though not thrilled to give any portion of Smart's distribution back, Penske told Ward's, "If they want it back, then I'd be happy to sell it to them." With the recent Daimler-Renault-Nissan alliance, Smart may be expanding, a move that could impact Mr. Penske for better or worse.