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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Dutch Mandel is a very knowledgeable automotive writer and commentator. This is what he wrote in AutoWeek Magazine; I see what may be some informative disclosures included within the text:

"Traditional car dealer Roger Penske is pulling out all the stops to introduce consumers to the smaller-than-expected and larger-than-life Smart microcar.

"Not only must Penske create a distribution company from scratch and establish an automotive brand in a crowded arena, but he must convince sport/utility-vehicle-driving, truck-loving America that these cars are not a safety hazard. Oh, and he has to sell more than a few boatloads to turn a profit.

"Few observers believe the Smart will be anything but a success.

"To help establish Smart USA, a 56-city national tour of trailers stuffed with the cute, fuel-efficient German minicars—they’re less than 9 feet long and only 5 feet tall—will canvass America. Each trailer carries two cars for test drives, plus a cutaway Smart skeleton to emphasize its safety capabilities. The tour kicks off this month on the West Coast and concludes in November in Miami, visiting each city where Smart will have a dealership. The company expects the Smart tour will put some 70,000 people behind the wheel.

"Overseeing Smart’s launch are Dave Schembri and Russell Hill, two auto industry veterans with decades of import factory and retail experience. They have devised plans to make Smart a household name.

"“It’s ‘discovery marketing,’” says Schembri, Smart USA president. “People like to discover things and take ownership. It happens when you are on the highway and people wave at you to slow down and so they can take a picture. They’ve ‘discovered’ the car.”

"Four groups have shown interest: first-time car owners, urban dwelling “metro-cools,” commuters and empty-nesters. The Smart website also has helped identify strong geographic areas of interest, which will help channel product to the right markets as well as prepare for service support down the road.

"Three models will be sold in the United States: Smart Fortwo Pure, an entry-level coupe starting at less than $12,000; Smart Fortwo Passion, a coupe with comfort and style items (such as a panoramic roof and paddle shifters) for $14,000; and Smart Fortwo Passion Cabrio for less than $17,000. Each has antilock brakes, electronic stability control and four airbags. Each is powered by a 1.0-liter engine that delivers 84 hp, an estimated 40-plus mpg in the city and more than 60 mpg on highway. Top speed is near 90 mph.

"Is America ready for microcar ownership? Absolutely, say Schembri and Hill, and they have the data and advance orders to show it. “If we get credit for inventing the microcar in America, then we become the Coke and everyone else is Pepsi,” says Schembri. “We can live with that.”

"Consumers interested in test drives can find the tour itinerary at www.smartusa.com. Buyers can plop down $99 to make a reservation to order a car, with the first deliveries starting in January 2008."

I sort of thought all along that the road tour was tied to the intended dealer locations. And now my guess is that the model/color selection was only to provide data for the product channeling. Finally, the statement that the $99 reservation is “to order” a car now makes sense to me considering the Internet Brands’ modus operandi – that the $99 reservation didn’t actually order anything, and the actual order is to follow, based on the reservation dates.
 

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What was the date of this article.? It is unlike AutoWeek to publish an article that the enthusiast public is already fully aware of.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
AutoWeek

Lhoboy,

I haven't been able to establish the date/issue yet (it has a SAAB 9-3 on the cover). Mandel is very much an automotive "insider" and has access to all the real people and does not have to regurgitate the outsourced PR boilerplate that most other reviewers draw upon.
 

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What was the date of this article.? It is unlike AutoWeek to publish an article that the enthusiast public is already fully aware of.
I didn't know about the dealerships being built in each city where Smart was visiting. For Connecticut, it means that the dealership will be in West Hartford only because they visited the city, but skipped Fairfield, but as far as I know one of the first dealerships in US is being build in Fairfield. So, I don't know what the deal is here!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Fairfield

There appears to have been some shuffling of dates: 13-15 JUL vs. 16-17 JUL vs. 20-25 JUL. Anyway, a Connecticut Post writer wrote:

Author: JOHN BURGESON [email protected]
Date: July 17, 2007
Publication: Connecticut Post (Bridgeport, CT)
Article ID: 6397105
""OK, hop in," said Crystal Wilson, the Smart car team member who accompanied me on our short spin in one of the shortest cars on the planet. The occasion was the Smart fortwo - as in, "for two people" - Road Show, which set up shop Tuesday in the unused Mercedes-Benz dealership on Commerce Drive in Fairfield, just over the Bridgeport line. ....
 

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Mandel is very much an automotive "insider" and has access to all the real people and does not have to regurgitate the outsourced PR boilerplate that most other reviewers draw upon.
That's what I thought too, so the article may be a bit dated.
 

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I didn't know about the dealerships being built in each city where Smart was visiting.
I'm not certain I had read that anywhere either. I may have just assumed that. When they cancelled the DC tour, I remember thinking that they decided it was too expensive to build one of their 10 dealerships here. It wasn't long thereafter that an existing MB dealer about 20 miles out of town contacted me for a "by invitation only" tour event.

This article may be a recent release, afterall.
 

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There appears to have been some shuffling of dates: 13-15 JUL vs. 16-17 JUL vs. 20-25 JUL. Anyway, a Connecticut Post writer wrote:
Well, I think that there is a lack of communication somewhere along the way. If they visited Fairfield that means that their phone rep had no idea about the tour dates because on the phone she told me that she is sorry, but they are not going to Fairfield.
Plus, they never updated the site. On the site for Fairfield, CT it says please join us at East Hartford, CT and this is where I test-drove the Smart. The girl that was with me in the car said that they are going to Fairfield, CT next week even though according to the calendar they were supposed to be in Fairfield the previous week.
Anyway, I contributed to the Global Warming by driving an extra 100 miles to East Hartford and back! :(
 

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Discussion Starter #11
"Who's On First..."

There is obviously a lot of mis-and non-communication at this point. But as otherwise posted in a different part of this forum, the road show is being handled by outsourced PR people, and they may have a degree of autonimity. They may not speak with PAG in Michigan about every detail. In the case of the Virginia Beach, VA showing, it was presented by a Norfolk marketing firm and local
 
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