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That's surprising, I thought MBUSA never sold the smart in the US and that there were currently about 53 dealerships.:confused:

In 2004 MBUSA flirted with the idea of bringing smart over. They even did a small SUV concept called the formore, in an effort to gain US attention. They didn't get enough reaction to go forward with the idea, and the formore died after a few prototypes were built. So yes, MBUSA was the first to "formally" introduce smart to the US.
 

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Showing up after the battle and shooting the wounded

I'm consistently bothered by the blame game played by passionate advocates and owners of cars that don't meet their sales expectations.

1) GM spent billions developing the electric EV-1 with beyond state of the art engineering, and leased them at compact car costs. Seven other manufacturers made models they leased to citizens in So Cal and AZ at similar bargain rates.

Despite a massive and clever ad campaign, thousands of FREE charging stations provided by the electric companies, and many cash incentives, only a few thousand ... yes about 6000+\- electric cars were leased. EVER!

Obviously, the fault of the car companies!

2) With big fanfare, GM created a new division, Saturn aimed at completely reworking the auto design, production, sales and service process. They concentrated on durability, value, appeal and consistency.

Despite lack of flash, the car was well enough designed to beat Honda in the highly competitive IMSA sedan racing series in its first years. A fresh, new plant was built in TN, away from states with inflated Union costs and demands. It was sold with little marketing at one price, to avoid competition between dealers, and customer classes and events were frequent and free. Jill Ladziak was one of the staunchest advocates, and I went to the wildly popular Saturn Homecoming on their 5th anniversary, attended by thousands of delighted owners, where she was lauded. The most commonly used parts, tune up and low speed front and rear collision parts, were minimized in price to keep ownership costs low. The body panels were plastic to resist dings, and looked good for years.

While the owners were happy, other GM divisions, dealers, unions, salesmen and especially Wall Street pundits hated Saturn. By the time the division closed, almost all innovations had been discarded, and it was just one more cheap car using shared parts.

The public was in love with SUVs, the bigger the better. Obviously Saturn's fault.

3) We all know (or have opinions on) the history of smart. Forced through by the Swatch folks, it was never embraced by Daimler. As an auto journalist at the time, I went to Europe three times, first for the plant opening, then as a guest of Chrysler when they intended on importing it, then a similar trip later as a guest of MB.

Finally seeing the European success, and watching gas prices rise, Roger Penske thought enough Americans would see its charms to bring it in. We proved him wrong, with the sales of the biggest SUVs rising along with pump prices.

Yes, his business model relied on minimal advertising figuring that journalist intelligence, word of mouth and buyer common sense would be enough. He was wrong on all counts. Simply said, people are sheep and idiots.

Obviously Jill Ladziak's fault.

Since the 50s, the V8 has become the standard of the American car, and bigger is better has pervaded our standard of life and the perception of our net worth. Compare the size of our houses, property and cars, and the mass of our possessions with ANY other part of the world.

In your daily driving, take note of the very few Suburbans traveling with less than one person or the pickups with anything in the bed. Big vehicles are based far more on ego than need.

You can check the purchases made after the trade ins from the "Cash for Clunkers" program. The majority were big vehicles, not the eco sippers that the media and administration were touting.

Lest you feel these syndromes are unique to cheap, small eco cars, note the recent travails of Aston Martin, Jaguar, Maybach, Acura, Infiniti and Scion divisions. All launched with big fanfare, and disappointing sales, and kept alive (at least at points in their life cycle) by management egos.

A bit of wisdom: from Pogo. "We have met the enemy, and he is us!" or H.L. Menken "No one has ever gone broke underestimating the taste of the American public." or Dick Tuck "The people have spoken, the bastards."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Tuck#cite_note-2
 

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that's a lot of talking, but when you are at the top you have to take some responsibility, or ownership if you will. You are right, it ain't ALL her fault, but the buck stops somewhere...

The last quote says a lot -- it's hard to tell what the fickle idiot masses will do... they are sheep, and need to be led... problem is the Shepard ain't making any noise!

When I'm diving my smart I run into 5-6 people every outing that have never heard of, nor do they know what a smart is! If it's too low key, which it appears to be, that's a problem and that problem comes from direction at the top. If people say, hey! that's a smart, I've heard all about them and I still don't want one, then you can more fully blame the consumer.
 

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that's a lot of talking, but when you are at the top you have to take some responsibility, or ownership if you will. You are right, it ain't ALL her fault, but the buck stops somewhere...

The last quote says a lot -- it's hard to tell what the fickle idiot masses will do... they are sheep, and need to be led... problem is the Shepard ain't making any noise!

When I'm diving my smart I run into 5-6 people every outing that have never heard of, nor do they know what a smart is! If it's too low key, which it appears to be, that's a problem and that problem comes from direction at the top. If people say, hey! that's a smart, I've heard all about them and I still don't want one, then you can more fully blame the consumer.
I hope you tell them it came from G&K, cost nearly $30K brand new and just over a thousand were imported into the USA! :p
 

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What's up with firefighters driving ridiculously huge trucks everywhere with just them in it. Complete with "I own the road attitudes?" I see their FF stickers in the back windows all the time.
Sent from my SPH-M900 using AutoGuide App
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Mine's bigger than yours ...

Ask most suburban truck/SUV owners why they need a truck, and you'd be surprised by the number of "some day I'm planning on buying a boat" answers you get. And note the number of rear window stickers you see that are some form of masculine compensation.

IMHO, minivans are one of the most intelligent family vehicles ever devised, but the "soccer mom" stigma has killed their sales. The appeal of the SUV often relates to the desire to be seen as a vital urban cowgirl. Especially among those with grown kids whose hubbies traded them in for a newer model.

Cheers, Bob in KCMO
 

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What's up with firefighters driving ridiculously huge trucks everywhere with just them in it. Complete with "I own the road attitudes?" I see their FF stickers in the back windows all the time.
Sent from my SPH-M900 using AutoGuide App


LOL, you got that right. Around here, it's a status symbol for every guy over 15 to be a volunteer fire fighter. It's like a redneck brotherhood. Don't get me wrong, these guys do a great service to the community, and I thank them for their efforts, but come on, a couple of the local towns have a population of 8-10,000, and I think 5,000, are volunteer fire fighters! Other than one guy I see running around in a Geo Metro, all of them drive 4WD trucks with huge light racks on top!:)
 

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I'd feel better if someone at the top knew the difference between the clutch actuator and the window winder and could identify any part of the car I handed him, instantly, knowing how to install it back in the transmission without a training program...and has had a little grease in his hands that didn't come from a boutique.

Couldn't we have just one person near the top who knows the engine is in the back and drives the rear wheels? Maybe such a person could be convinced diesel engines aren't just for garbage trucks and ships.

Hello Kittie?
For the most part I agree with you Larry but, Please exercise some tact.

Much of the problem is that most sales personal have little or no experience in repair and even less in engineering. Most engineers have little or no experience in repair or sales. And lastly most technicians ( It was Mechanics prior to my introduction of Technician in 1967) have little or no experience in either sales or engineering.

I don't usually toot my own horn but the above quote stepped a little too heavy on my toes.

I have degrees in both Electronics and Mechanical Engineering. For my thesis (1950's) I designed a Diesel/Gas-Electric Series Hybred powertrain. My team constructed this prototype mule chassis while I was at the GM Tech Center (Warren Mich.

Since 1952, have graduated from 27 (that's Twenty Seven) imported car manufactuer schools.

Taught Automotive Theory at West Coast Trade School.

Presented a paper (Wankel rotary engine) to over 500 engineers at the SAE convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit in 1971.

Owned & operated the largest independent imported auto repair in Detroit.
My sign said, "If it's Foreign - We Fix It"

In 1966 I created the original curriculum for training dealer service personal in the United States for the number one selling car company in the US.
Retired from the executive branch (several of you know the title) of this company.

So in summination, you wrote " One person near the top who knows the engine is in the back and drives the rear wheels? "



Donald LaFavor
 

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I don't usually toot my own horn but the above quote stepped a little too heavy on my toes.

I have degrees in both Electronics and Mechanical Engineering. For my thesis (1950's) I designed a Diesel/Gas-Electric Series Hybred powertrain. My team constructed this prototype mule chassis while I was at the GM Tech Center (Warren Mich.

Since 1952, have graduated from 27 (that's Twenty Seven) imported car manufactuer schools.

Taught Automotive Theory at West Coast Trade School.

Presented a paper (Wankel rotary engine) to over 500 engineers at the SAE convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit in 1971.

Owned & operated the largest independent imported auto repair in Detroit.
My sign said, "If it's Foreign - We Fix It"

In 1966 I created the original curriculum for training dealer service personal in the United States for the number one selling car company in the US.
Retired from the executive branch (several of you know the title) of this company.

So in summination, you wrote " One person near the top who knows the engine is in the back and drives the rear wheels? "



Donald LaFavor
Toot away, you've earned it. In a faceless society like this forum, we can't always tell from the brief quips posted who the real person is. Don't get to see you face to face, so a little background helps with the mental image we form. Thanks for your lifetime service in the industry we are passionate about.
 

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What's up with firefighters driving ridiculously huge trucks everywhere with just them in it. Complete with "I own the road attitudes?" I see their FF stickers in the back windows all the time.
Sent from my SPH-M900 using AutoGuide App
It's HOSE envy and the desire to carry a larger longer one.:D

Poor little fellas. :eek: Doh! :p :D
 

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"Dealerless in Minneapolis"

July 11, 2011 - MONTVALE, NJ
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) today announced appointments within a dedicated team that will be responsible for the sales, marketing and distribution of smart products in the United States. MBUSA took over responsibility for sales of the two-seater coupes and cabriolets from the Penske organization on July 1, 2011.
Heading up the smart team as general manager will be Tracey Matura. Matura is responsible for the brand's distribution, sales and marketing activities, reporting to Michael Slagter, vice president of sales for MBUSA. She has worked for MBUSA for 16 years, predominantly in the legal and retail areas, most recently as general manager of strategic retail development where she was responsible for the MBUSA dealer network. She was ranked one of the "100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry" by Automotive News this year.
Matura and her team will be part of a new subsidiary of MBUSA called Daimler Vehicle Innovations, LLC. Positions reporting directly to Matura include:

  • Julia Knittel as manager, smart marketing and brand management. Knittel, who has worked for MBUSA since 2002 in such areas as learning & performance and consumer events & sports marketing, was also communications manager for the smart brand when MBUSA originally introduced the brand to the U.S. in 2004. In her new post, Knittel will be responsible for developing and implementing strategic communication platforms for smart products and the brand in the U.S. including traditional marketing, experiential marketing, partnerships, social and digital media.
  • Sean Lyons as manager, smart sales and aftersales. Lyons comes to smart from Lexus where he held management positions for 11 years in regional sales operations, preowned and marketing, and most recently, vehicle field sales. As part of the smart team, Lyons will be responsible for managing sales and aftersales activities including overseeing a team of six field operations managers.
  • Deirdre O'Grady as smart dealer network lead. O'Grady brings to her new position, nine years of retail experience at Infiniti in such positions as regional market manager, and dealer parts & service manager. She also worked in sales operations, market representation, marketing and consumer affairs. On the smart team, O'Grady will be responsible for the strategic development and support of the smart franchise network which currently consists of 75 dealerships across the United States.
The distinctive smart product line consists of four models in the U.S.: the gasoline-powered smart fortwo in coupe (in "pure" or "passion" configuration) and cabriolet bodystyles as well as an all-electric version of the smart fortwo coupe. Over 47,000 smarts have been sold in the U.S. to date.
This is good news if we will see a local dealer appointed to do warranty and non warranty work. Otherwise it is just another change that makes us think about recommending the brand to other potential buyers. With two Smarts in the garage folks are always asking us about our choices and we have to give them the truth.
 

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I suspect it is a matter of time. If Daimler has decided that smart is good for the company, then eventually it will be good for all MBUSA dealers to support Daimler's smart customers. I will welcome that change of heart even though it may come after my warranty expires. It is what it is.
 

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We need to be patient with MBUSA, they have only been at the helm for 2 weeks, and truthfully, they have made some pretty significant changes in two weeks. Feb-July 1 is not a lot of time to transition an entire dealer network(albeit a small one), to a new company. Most of that time was probably spent figuring out the details of the infrastructure to make sure the dealers could still get cars & parts. Also, my guess is legally, MBUSA probably couldn't do a lot until they officially took over.

They have made several dealership announcements, and they have promised 100 dealers, probably more. They have officially announced an ad campaign, and set a goal for over 50% more sales. The team is making rounds to all the dealers asking for input, and to present their plans and goals. I plan to hang tight until October-November when the 2012's come out. My guess is you will see a lot of effort put into the brand for the next model year. The potential exists, they just need to get the cross hairs lined up and figure out how to tap into it.

The next three months will tell the tale. As MBUSA rolls out its plans and moves forward with promoting smart sales, I think you will see a dramatic rise in awareness, and hopefully sales.

I really feel for those of you who live in areas like Minnesota, where there is no coverage right now. I believe MBUSA is going to correct that, it's just going to take time to get a local dealer onboard with the plan. I think that is the big hang up right now. Finding MB dealers willing to take on the smart. It's going to be a 180 degree turn around for some dealerships. smart owners are a passionate group. We like to have get togethers, and promote the brand. We're not the typical MB customer who just wants their car to function properly and can't find the dipstick. We want to go hang out at the dealership and get excited about our cars. MB dealers aren't used to that. :)
 
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