• Aug 31, 2010
2009 Smart ForTwo Cabriolet – Click above for high-res image gallery

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.



[Source: Automotive News, sub. req.]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 68 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Tbh, even though it has some flaws I really like the smart. I like the look, i like the rather spacious inside, I like the way you can move it in crowded inner cities and the small-but-premium-concept behind it. But they should've relaunched it long ago with a proper transmission and/or as a full EV.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I almost bought a Smart. I waited 9 months for delivery. But the dealer, at the peak of Smart sales, decided to play the greed card and wanted to give me practically nothing for my trade-in. I smartly decided to invite him to stuff his Smart, and informed corporate that someday they were gonna need customers, and I was going to give them the Nelson laugh, and would NEVER consider a Smart again. Well, the time has come, and I don't feel sorry for them AT ALL.

      I just returned from Europe. The Smart is everywhere in Croatia, Italy, and Germany, and it makes sense there. The roads are narrow, and the Smart is perfect for scooting around town. Smarts can park anywhere (like scooters), including sideways in a spot (and two will fit side-by-side) and up on sidewalks. If we'd let them park like that in the US, the Smart would make more sense for us.

      So, after I stormed out of the Smart dealer, I walked into a Honda dealer and got a killer deal on a Fit, even though the Fit was at its sales peak. I am delighted in my choice, as the Fit is an incredibly space efficient small car. All I can say to Smart is your biz model sucks, and it's no wonder you're in trouble.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I bought the Fit too. The Smart is just way too much of a compromise on every level. As has been said here, IF the mileage was incredible then the sacrifice is worth it, but the mileage isn't really any better than my Fit and every other aspect of it is worse.

        Wacky styling gets you only so far. All style no substance for the US market

        Agree on the dealer attitudes, only other place I felt less wanted was a few years ago at a Hummer dealer. Look where you are now!
        • 4 Years Ago
        US-spec Smarts were never offered the turbocharged petrol or diesel engines, both of which offer better fuel economy than the non-turbo models.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So many factors make this an undesirable car. The relatively low (for size) fuel economy. The high (esp. for size) price. And few places where the small size is a plus. The US was built with wide streets, and parking is not really hard to find. Which is the reverse of the UK.

      This car would have to (probably) get over 60 mpg on the highway (40+ city) in order to be considered.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I feel like I already read this story over and over and over again. How many times are you planning on regurgitating the same "smart car sales are bad. We aren't surprised" story?

      We get it. You don't like smart cars. Move on.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I bought mine for $19K, sold it 4 mo/600mi later for $24k. Smarts are (or were) pretty cool in my book!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Congratulations for your profit, that's great. I wish I thought of it.

        But you should be ashamed of yourself for scamming some poor sap like that! How dare you! ;-p
      • 4 Years Ago
      They need to sell the diesel version. It can do 60 mpg no problem. The gasoline version which is still dog-slow while getting worse mileage doesn't make any sense. They probably figured we stupid americans won't buy diesels even with the better mileage so only bothered to get the gasoline version certified for sale in the US. Bring the diesel, people would actually buy it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      what a shock: they sell very small, not very good looking, not too economical and fully overpriced pieces of BLEEP

      of course it doesnt sell in the world where you can buy everything from ford fiestas to hyundai genesis coupes for less
      • 4 Years Ago
      A four wheeled scooter?
      hex311k
      • 4 Years Ago
      Id only buy one to put a busa motor in it
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Smart fortwo!

      Price, fuel economy, practicality... choose none of them!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm a big Smart fan and have been for years. It has some awkward drawbacks, not least the transmission, but the car wasn't built for fuel economy. Indeed, its engine has to work way too hard to get decent fuel efficiency, unless you plump for the diesel. This car was designed for old European cities where parking is a premium and often a real headache for daily commuters. It also oozes that chic European appeal that you'd only find in the streets of Paris or Rome.

      And to that end, the ForTwo was only ever going to be a novelty at best in America because it doesn't offer anything there that other cars can't achieve, in just the same way as an Escaalde is completely out of place in Europe.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Everyone hear seems to have the right idea, so I won't beat a dead horse. I will say, however, that it's absolutely mind boggling how this car came to market. I mean, it even looks bad on paper. Look at the facts: Bad fuel efficiency for its size, high price for what you get, lack of servicing options, reliability unknowns, safety concerns, etc. With all these glaring shortcomings, it's crazy that this thing ever got passed the drawing board. Just think of all the steps this car went through to get to the market. There were so many opportunities to shoot this thing down before it came to market and lost a ton of money for the company.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bloke

        no, not even in europe does it add up, it is beaten in every factual category except parking space by ford fiestas and honda jazzes

        and anyone who cant park a jazz shouldnt have a licence anyway
        • 4 Years Ago
        The ForTwo was designed originally for the European market, and sold there for a decade before it went on sale in America. In Europe, the specs on paper add up: it utilises parking spaces no other car can, it has a range of engines including an extremely efficient diesel, and in terms of pricing, it's on a par with any A-segment hatch. That said, the transmission has always been a drawback and the non-turbocharged petrol units have to work too hard to be particularly fuel efficient.

        It doesn't make sense in America where the infrastructure is very different and where the advantages of the Smart
        • 4 Years Ago
        The ForTwo was designed originally for the European market, and sold there for a decade before it went on sale in America. In Europe, the specs on paper add up: it utilises parking spaces no other car can, it has a range of engines including an extremely efficient diesel, and in terms of pricing, it's on a par with any A-segment hatch. That said, the transmission has always been a drawback and the non-turbocharged petrol units have to work too hard to be particularly fuel efficient.

        It doesn't make sense in America where the infrastructure is very different and where the advantages of the Smart are negated from the outset.

        • 4 Years Ago
        "no, not even in europe does it add up, it is beaten in every factual category except parking space by ford fiestas and honda jazzes
        and anyone who cant park a jazz shouldnt have a licence anyway"

        Gramercy - but you're forgetting one important aspect. It doesn't compete with any B-segment car. In fact, the Smart is sub-A. The Smart is more of a modern interpretation of the old BMW Isetta and other 1960's bubble cars, plus the original Fiat 500, which were considered to be chic and practical ways of buzzing aroung crowded, narrow, European city streets. Whatsmore, the ForTwo has been on sale now for twelve years in Europe, and will likely continue to appeal to those who don't want a traditional A-segment hatch. Toyota's iQ is the closest competitor the Smart ForTwo has, and even that costs more than the larger Aygo and itself extends into Yaris pricing territory.
    • Load More Comments