• Sep 1st 2011 at 6:10PM
  • 28
Hey Smart, where have you been? Oh, you've been here all along? Sorry, we didn't notice.

As promised, in the face of weak sales, Smart USA will launch a massive TV, print and digital marketing campaign by year's end to try and re-start the struggling microcar company that Mercedes-Benz took over from Penske back in February.

Tracey Matura, general manager of Smart USA, says. "People are not avoiding the brand or the product, but there is a great majority of people who are not aware of the brand." M-B says the TV and print ads will be a first for Smart here in the States. Matura says, "We will do things the same way as we do on the Mercedes-Benz side – that is the benefit of having an organization like Mercedes-Benz USA behind you." That sounds good, but optimism in the face of poor sales is sort of a Smart tradition at this point.

Mercedes-Benz is also offering special lease and finance deals for Smart vehicles through its captive finance arm. Lease pricing for the Smart Fortwo starts at $179 a month for 24 months and finance deals like 1.9 percent interest for up to 60 months were announced in mid-July.

Meanwhile, Jay Agresta, president of one of the Smart dealers in the U.S. says, "What we need now is the marketing muscle of Mercedes-Benz." Is it really just that M-B's muscle is all that Smart needs to get back on track – or is it something more serious, like the Fortwo's flaws, that have led to tumbling sales?

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      God....talk about missing the forest for the trees.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 4 Years Ago
      So let's not fix the car's major flaws and continue to market it differently... Gonna sound like Dan F. here for a sec, but this seems like a conspiratorial level of stupidity.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Absolutely agree with ExoPlanet's comment. Sat in one at the Chicago Auto Show. I just don't get it. The quality was laughable. I lifted up the carpeting clean away from the foam floor underneath to find a curious looking wrench built in. Is this a joke? Am I not only to be crushed in the event of an accident, but also have a bottle opener lodged into my femur? I am not even going to mention that it's a GOLF CART that gets less MPG than a Ford Focus (oops, I just did). Dear Mercedes, Please kill this brand with fire. Thank you. Signed, Earth
        • 8 Months Ago
        I don't think they need to kill the brand, they just need to make it a car worth actually buying and/or driving.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 4 Years Ago
      as some point they might consider an actually smart design instead of unsmartly pushing this one forever.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I really wanted to like th Smart. I actually like its dinky looks and size, but after driving it, I realised what a piece of cr*p it really is. Poor ride, low quality, rough drivetrain, and poor MPG for such a tiny car. Hey MBUSA, increasing marketing is just polishing a turd. No matter how shiny it is, its still a turd.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Fiat 500 has negated any chance Smart might have had to increase sales. No amount of advertising, or worse, "seat time" can overcome that ghastly transmission.
      • 4 Years Ago
      MB has long been a company known for engineering innovation; management lending the MB name to this car has been a failure that reflects poorly on their engineering capability. Suggestion: sell the rights to the car to Sears and they can market it under the name "J. C. Higgins." and bill it as "The new HUGO."
      • 4 Years Ago
      Maybe it's because you can buy a car twice the size for the same price and get 40 mpg.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 8 Months Ago
        Oh man, that is so true. Now that larger car is going to have a very high tech engine compared to the smart cars.. just imagine if they put a direct injection, double cam, dual VVT, low friction piston motor into this thing.. it could edge up to Prius levels of fuel economy.
      Neutral President
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have no strong feelings one way or the other, but perhaps Mercedes-Benz is confusing "not aware" with "doesn't give a damn" about the smart brand. Trying to re-introduce the brand with the same mediocre product might work for me, but i believe it will not accomplish what they're hoping for with the American audience. Without better MPG, better pricing and better packaging, they can promote the brand all they want, and the cars still won't sell. There are bigger, more capable and more efficient cars at or below the smart fortwo's price point.
      • 4 Years Ago
      2 Year, 24,000 mile warranty? And folks wonder why companies like Hyundai and others can't keep their vehicles in stock. The Smart Car has plenty of other things to overcome, why make the warranty yet another reason for someone to say no thanks? Come on Mercedes, please stand behind your products.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well, Tracey Matura has a legal background, not an automotive one, so she may very well believe that the people simply need to be "educated" about the product. Given the number of reviews of the Smart by auto journalists and my personal try of the car, product flaws (and not a lack of awareness of the Smart) are killing sales of the Smart. How about this for a tag line on what you're going to do? "We got Smart and had Mercedes engineers improve it." Then make sure you actually do improve it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The numbers have never added up for this car. The fuel mileage was not all that good for a car that is about half the size of a compact that gets about the same, and for what they want for these things you can buy a Fiest for less than $1000 more that will seat 5 so no need for another car and the fuel rating is only 5 city less and 4 highway less with more front passenger room making it les cramped. I heard from an owner that it is about $150 to just get the oil changed because you need to take it to an MB dealer. Granted I do not change my own either not worth it anymore I have someone else do it for me, and it costs me about $40 and that is with 7 quarts of oil and filter.
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