When gas prices hit the stratosphere in 2008, car buyers began a frenzied search for fuel efficient transportation. One of the big winners as a result of pricey petrol was the little Smart Fortwo. A surprising 25,000 copies of Daimler's diminutive two-seater flew off dealer lots that year, followed by solid though less spectacular sales throughout much of 2009.
There is little doubt that the Fortwo started off on the right foot here in the States, but Smart's feel-good story in the U.S. took a turn for the worse in 2010. Through the first seven months of this year, Automotive News reports that Smart has sold only 4,000 Fortwos. German news source Der Spiegel says that U.S. Smart sales will likely be only one third of the 25,000 units sold in 2008. Because of these low U.S. sales numbers, Smart is in danger of selling fewer than 100,000 units worldwide for the year, down considerably from the 114,000 units sold in 2009.
Is it surprising that the Fortwo's luster has worn so thin so fast here in the U.S.? We don't think so, especially considering the Fortwo's fuel economy numbers of 33 miles per gallon in the city and 41 mpg highway aren't as good as far more functional hybrids like the Toyota Prius and are even beginning to be matched by larger gas-powered vehicles like the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze. Nor were we that thrilled with the Fortwo when we reviewed a 2009 model. At this point, the only way Smart will get back on track in the U.S. is if gas prices spike again, or if the upcoming revival of the Smart Forfour takes this country by storm.