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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)


Winkler really knows how to reel in the sales...

DETROIT -- U.S. dealers aren't likely to get the new Smart ForFour four-seat car that goes on sale in Europe this year.

Although executives said a decision hasn't been made, the car has not been homologated for the United States, Smart boss Annette Winkler said.

Smart isn't sure there is a big enough market in the United States for the ForFour to warrant the cost of homologation, she said.

Winkler said the redesigned ForTwo, which is wider and roomier than the current model, may be enough to increase U.S. sales.

"There are other regulations to comply with, and to achieve what is needed here costs extra money," she said at the auto show here last week.

Smart sales fell 7 percent in the U.S. market to 9,264 last year.

Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, says Smart is more of a 10,000 unit niche player than a volume brand. Its fuel economy will help Mercedes-Benz meet tougher future corporate average fuel economy regulations, he said.

The microcar segment in the United States shrunk while the entire market grew last year, he said.

Even if the company decided to sell the ForFour in the United States, the bump in annual volume wouldn't be that significant, perhaps increasing from 10,000 units to 20,000 units a year. So why even keep Smart? Cannon says first of all, he'd have to pay the 92 Mercedes-Benz dealers who sell Smart if the network was shut down.

"We have allowed it to find its own level, and it has marketing and a $99 lease," Cannon said referring to the lease rate for the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive car.

Smart lowered the monthly lease rate, which included a monthly fee of $80 to rent the battery, from $199 to $99 for the 2014 model year. The battery-electric car went on sale last May only in the so-called CARB states with tighter emissions standards. Smart sold 921 of the electric cars in the United States in 2013. Sales in all 50 states begin in February.
"Customers are not gravitating to those segments," Cannon said.

The United States, unlike Europe, is predominantly a country of suburbs rather than cities, and people have to travel longer distances to work, he said. "We are spread out, and that is never going to change."
 

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No surprise to this decision...the Smart ForFour four-seat car would have little chance of success in the US market...too many other competitors producing small 4-doors!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Ditto smark, as much as I would love to see the roadster come back, it definitely wouldn't make sense to have only the fortwo and the roadster in the lineup.

Besides, as the Internet says: If you want a cheap, RWD roadster, the answer is always Miata. :D
Then substitute "roadster" for "sportscar" and you'll get Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ. :wink:
 

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With only 92(?) smart Centers, a lot to be said for a Business Plan that will fit on the back of your business card . . .
"Smart is more of a 10,000 unit niche player than a volume brand. Its fuel economy will help Mercedes-Benz meet tougher future corporate average fuel economy regulations."
Brief and concise - in just two sentences killed ALL speculation about a smart forfour in the U.S.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
With only 92(?) smart Centers, a lot to be said for a Business Plan that will fit on the back of your business card . . .
"Smart is more of a 10,000 unit niche player than a volume brand. Its fuel economy will help Mercedes-Benz meet tougher future corporate average fuel economy regulations."
Brief and concise - in just two sentences killed ALL speculation about a smart forfour in the U.S.
My favourite part was this:

So why even keep Smart? Cannon says first of all, he'd have to pay the 92 Mercedes-Benz dealers who sell Smart if the network was shut down.
Not sure if U.S. dealers are making a profit, but at least one thing's for sure, apparently it costs more money to kill U.S. smart operations than it does to keep it running!
 

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Possible that M-B would have to "buy them out" of their smart Franchise? This may have been played once before with the PAG transition and the closure of stand alone Penske smart locations?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
YES!!! All the way! :)

Give us a turbo AND a diesel and I could almost guarantee increased sales. You have the turbo for those who want speed, the diesel for fuel economy, and the NA petrol for a mix of both.
 

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Not sure if U.S. dealers are making a profit, but at least one thing's for sure, apparently it costs more money to kill U.S. smart operations than it does to keep it running!
How many smart dealerships have just the Brand manager and the finance guy holding down day to day operations? That's all there is at my dealer. It's not they would be killing off an entire staff.......And the so called mechanics could just go back to screwing up M-B cars...

There be some writing in between the lines of the original post article...
 

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Maybe for the ROW; smart USA has made it pretty clear they're "happy" with the niche sales that get them needed CAFE credits. Don't think they see a business case for expanding the model line in this country. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
How many smart dealerships have just the Brand manager and the finance guy holding down day to day operations? That's all there is at my dealer. It's not they would be killing off an entire staff.......And the so called mechanics could just go back to screwing up M-B cars...

There be some writing in between the lines of the original post article...
Lake Bluff had neither a brand manager nor a finance person for smart. The entire smart section of the dealer was completely unattended. I could've rolled the Tridion Cell display out of there and nobody would've noticed.

If you wanted to buy a smart, you had to walk next door into the Hyundai dealership and ask for help.

Smart Centre Lincolnwood has a Brand Manager (Brand Manager Bobby) and a Finance Manager (Finance Manager Robert) and that's it.

See, but I think the problem with dropping smart would be not only paying off the 92 dealers that took on smart (and renovated to to hold smart) but then the fact that without smart, Mercedes would not meet the new standards.
 

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This is sad news. I feel if smart uses similar strategies as FIAT n MINI we can survive. America wants options and choices. Even if it's 2 or 3. Even if smart needed to utilized same platform n reconstruct it to stretch it it would still be worth it. 4door is the next big thing to evolve smart.
If fiat can just make so many new models in short amount of time in the us why can't smart n they have better support from MB. And has been here in the US longer. New gen 2015 smart is going to help a bit but we can't stop there. I also hope there's a real BRABUS turbo Ver in the pipeline for the next gen.

Let's go smart .......... > open your mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
That exactly. I think it's perfectly possible to inject smart DNA into a slightly larger, 4 seat vehicle. I don't think the concept of smart requires just two seats.

After all, the very brand logo means: C = Compact, > = Forward Thinking.

Seems possible for me that smart could build a compact, four seat city car that retains most of the traits of the original two seat city car.

And before you mention the forfour: The problem with the old forfour, was that it was just a Mitsubishi Colt in smart clothes. The new forfour looks like it's going to be original.

Furthermore, everyone who liked my car, but said they wouldn't get one, was because they said they wished it had a backseat. So there's definitely public interest in a four seater. And yes, I know the market is "filled" with similar vehicles, but it looks like each of them has found their own place.
 

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Here all along I thought that a roadster was an open car. Most folks want something new for there new car bucks. Not warmed over nobody liked it the first time leftovers. I would hope some improvements have been made over the years. Our 451's have been built for a long time by auto industry standards and are getting long of tooth. Lets see what the redesign does for sales.
 

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No 4 door smart, is going to be the final nail in the coffin, for the brand here. I guess MB doesn't care.
 
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