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Discussion Starter #1
The 2018 453 has been built !
Vin numbers beginning with "JK" ( which identifies MY 2018) exist with a build date of 09/17. they come equipped with a rear view camera, the only observed upgrade from 2017.
A black/green Cabriolet is on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, running December 1-10, 2017. No announcements have been made in person or online about the 2018 model.
With the ability to examine current smart Center inventories, no center has a 2018, and no one shows any in transit.
Questions about possible price reductions to move 2017 inventories and why the public silence surrounding the 2018 were unanswered. Shared rumors about smarts future were refered to a MB Supervisor, who shut down further conversation rather than reassuring smarts future.
So, if we have any of our regular dealers reading this post, Please let us know if you have ordered the 2018, and when you expect it to be in stock. Thank You !
 

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Well.... there WAS an announcement about the 2018 models several months ago. That being when Smart USA made it official that there would be no more new ICE ForTwo's coming to the US. So at least you know that whatever 2018's become available will be ED's.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yesterday's speculation has little to do with today's reality.


That said, I'm Dragging you to an Elementary conclusion !
 

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The 2018 453 has been built !
Vin numbers beginning with "JK" ( which identifies MY 2018) exist with a build date of 09/17. they come equipped with a rear view camera, the only observed upgrade from 2017.
A black/green Cabriolet is on display at the Los Angeles Auto Show, running December 1-10, 2017. No announcements have been made in person or online about the 2018 model.
With the ability to examine current smart Center inventories, no center has a 2018, and no one shows any in transit.
Questions about possible price reductions to move 2017 inventories and why the public silence surrounding the 2018 were unanswered. Shared rumors about smarts future were refered to a MB Supervisor, who shut down further conversation rather than reassuring smarts future.
So, if we have any of our regular dealers reading this post, Please let us know if you have ordered the 2018, and when you expect it to be in stock. Thank You !
Curious- who were those unanswered questions directed to and who referred you to an MB supervisor?

2018s will very very slowly trickling in towards the end of December. 2017s are still widely available and are the better deal. If you want to place a custom order, let your local dealer (or me if you're on the east coast and your dealer has closed) know and you can get your 2018 smart as you wish.
MSRP goes up $100 for 2018. Lease goes up $10/month on base car ($139 to $149) and will include rearview camera. (Are they really necessary on a smart? not in my opinion, but it will be a federal law to have one)

I met with smartUSA's east coast rep today and smartUSA is very serious about keeping smart going in 2018 and well beyond. With respect to the generic "they need to advertise more," "increase the range," or "they need to lower the price" suggestions, they are open to hearing real suggestions to get more people to try and buy the 2018 smart cars. Its a very niche product with small budget and small dealer network. Do not expect ads like Toyota/Honda/Mercedes have. More guerrilla marketing tactics to make people aware of the car and get them interested enough to contact a dealer.
 

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... and get them interested enough to contact a dealer.
We've been fighting this approach with smart USA since the Penske days. It's no better now with MBUSA. The dealers need to reach out to prospective customers - hold dealership events to get people behind the wheel. IMHO smarts don't sell until people drive them - once they do, most folks get the car. The dealerships, by and large, have been invisible when it comes to reaching out to potential customers. There are a few notable exceptions, but with 25 dealers and no advertising at the national level, if the dealers want to sell cars they have to make the cars available to the customers for test drives. Sponsor charity events, car washes, pop up smart drive events at local malls, partner with local animal shelters - whatever it takes to put butts in the seats. :)
 

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We've been fighting this approach with smart USA since the Penske days. It's no better now with MBUSA.
9 years later, smart remains the ugly stepchild with a Business Model that couldn't sustain a hobby?

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words . . .

Obviously THE CAT is M-B and of course the bird is . . . dead!
 

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We've been fighting this approach with smart USA since the Penske days. It's no better now with MBUSA. The dealers need to reach out to prospective customers - hold dealership events to get people behind the wheel. IMHO smarts don't sell until people drive them - once they do, most folks get the car. The dealerships, by and large, have been invisible when it comes to reaching out to potential customers. There are a few notable exceptions, but with 25 dealers and no advertising at the national level, if the dealers want to sell cars they have to make the cars available to the customers for test drives. Sponsor charity events, car washes, pop up smart drive events at local malls, partner with local animal shelters - whatever it takes to put butts in the seats. :)
Twenty Five dealers as of right now. Out of those whole 25 dealers, MB couldn't give enough smarts away to spark life into the brand here. IMHO, I have driven three smarts, I have owned 2 and the only reason I bought them was the fact that they were convertibles and were safer than my motorcycles.
I would have never bought a smart coupe. I drove a coupe and thought it was a substandard, mediocre hard top VEHICLE. As is now, much better choices in the marketplace, if you want a cage.
Time to pull off the rose colored glasses and be a realist.
The bird / brand is dead in North America. The only thing left is to backfill the grave.
 

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Guerrilla marketing doesn’t work if your online presence is worse than a dying brand like Sears or similar. Insider is still broken as is financingfortwo. They may as well not even exist on social media as well.

Regarding financingfortwo, I had to beg the MBFS rep to not charge me the $15 Western Union fee. I can’t be the only one experiencing that issue. I tried logging in from a fresh version of all of the big five browsers, different OS, and different devices. Unless my account is broken (which they’ll have to fix on their end), their site is.

It seems smart USA tries to replicate the successful road shows that smart Europe has. Now 8, 9 and 10 years ago? Oh yes those US road shows would pull in a heavy amount of really interested people. However, smart’s been here for a decade and for people in the markets they’ve chosen to serve, smart is old news.

I bet you 90% of the people who show up to do a 1 minute, 10 mph loop of Navy Pier either already own a smart or did it just for the free swag.

They can combat that with a mix of traditional marketing, guerrilla marketing, and some of that new school social media. A good example is their Super Bowl commercial. That got people talking about smart and not in a bad way...but then smart decided that their work was done and stopped there. Unless you constantly remind them that you exist, Americans will forget you.

They’ll toss us an unimpressive road show every three years then whine when people don’t buy the cars.
 

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For my part I don't see a lot of advertising of any electric vehicles. I may have missed it but I haven't seen one ad on TV for the Chevy Bolt but gobs for all their other cars to cite one example. Maybe there are some in car enthusiast magazines but I don't read those. I think the electric car market is still populated mostly with early adopters, the type of people who will actively search for information rather than be tempted by an ad or promotion. The Smart ED will never be a popular car in the USA nationally even if the range was doubled. The price would have to be reduced significantly to get any sort of national traction. The real issue isn't the advertising/promotion, the issue is that the Smart car simply doesn't have wide appeal to the general buying public. It's just too niche of a car.
 

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SMART could just be making a speculative play for the future. Don't market it heavily now but just keep the brand alive for a few years and see if it takes off with the rest of the electric car market. The unique look, size, safety cage, price and other aspects of the car will continue to attract a small percentage of the market interested in those things, and if projections for cheaper, longer-range batteries pans out, we could well be talking about how wise SMART was to keep the electric brand alive. From the perspective of SMART, it doesn't cost much to keep it alive as they are still popular overseas, and could be profitable.
 

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I haven’t seen advertising, of any ED on the market. There are sure a lot of them on the road here. i3’s, Leafs, Tesla’s, and Bolts. Sales and service everywhere. MB didn’t bother to advertise the new ICE 453. So why start with the ED. A niche vehicle, only offered, at 27 dealerships across country.
 

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I actually have seen a large number of Facebook promoted/sponsored posts for the 453 ED from MB that include a small variety of video ads.

I imagine they only target it in areas with dealerships though. Facebook ads let you get extremely specific.
 

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I actually have seen a large number of Facebook promoted/sponsored posts for the 453 ED from MB that include a small variety of video ads.

I imagine they only target it in areas with dealerships though. Facebook ads let you get extremely specific.
That could also be FB looking at your browsing patterns and showing you stuff you seem to be interested in.
 

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SMART could just be making a speculative play for the future.
I don't know about that but MB is, I read that they are going to be offering quite a few of Benz's as electric cars in the coming years.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/09/11/mercedes-benz-electric-versions-2022/

https://electrek.co/2017/08/21/mercedes-benz-to-unveil-new-compact-all-electric-car-eq-brand/

Smart is an excellent way to build a customer base and to learn the the business side of the electric car market. It's also a great way to get people into a Mercedes Benz dealership who might not otherwise have visited (I fell into that category). Or maybe they keep Smart around as an entry level car to get young people to their dealerships and build brand loyalty.
 

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I see a lot of smart ads too. That doesn’t mean a whole lot though because we’re smart enthusiasts.

Sites track your every move online. If I buy a pile of computer parts like I did for the past two weeks, most of my ads for the next two weeks will be computer parts. If I visit smartUSA’s site or do some googling about smarts, I’ll start seeing smart ads, if I sell something on eBay, I’ll get eBay ads, and so on.

My mum says she’s never seen a smart ad on her computer. Looks like her browsing activity doesn’t interest whoever runs smartUSA’s online ads.

As for smart doing some “testing the waters” stuff, they aren’t. MB has already announced what smart’s near future will be. Come 2020 (give or take) MB aims to turn smart into an autonomous EV that will rival Google’s autonomous car. Actually, by 2020 smart aims to end global ICE sales for good too.
 
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It won't be too long when we as enthusiasts go to a car show, we will be placed in the "orphan" category. We will then hear that often heard comment "Oh, I think I remember those cars". :shrug:
 

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I just heard the same story that Miss Mercedes mentioned about smart's future in the US. They do plan to maintain their presence in the US, but around 2020, they see smart as becoming an autonomous EV cruising around cities waiting to be summoned to drive someone to their destination.
 
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