2009 Smart Fortwo Click above for high-res image gallery

Intent on putting 2009 – and its devastating 41-percent sales plunge – into distant memory, Smart USA is rolling out its first lease incentive program designed to kick-start sales (along those lines, former Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak was appointed as president of the company just two weeks ago). Smart has run pilot leasing programs in the past, but this is the first program offered nationwide.

Launched two years ago, sales of the tiny Fortwo were initially strong. However, as the novelty wore off the unimpressive subcompact and gas prices dropped, customers grew cold. The failing economy only made matters worse. First year sales were 24,622 units. In 2009, Smart USA moved just 14,595 cars.

The terms of the Daimler Financial Services deal include a 36-month/10,000-mile lease with less than $2,000 out of pocket. Payments are $169 plus tax. The program is scheduled to run through the end of February.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

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