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DETROIT, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Penske Automotive (PAG.N: Quote, Profile, Research) Group expects to sell up to 25,000 two-seat Smart cars in the United States next year, as the dealership chain remains on track to launch the car in the first quarter of 2008.

Penske Automotive Chairman and Chief Executive Roger Penske said on a Thursday conference call the retailer had 35,400 reservations for the Smart car, produced by the Mercedes division of German automaker Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research).

"We currently expect to sell between 20,000 and 25,000 vehicles in 2008," Penske said on the call.

Sales and service will be handled by Smart USA, a division of the Penske Automotive Group, which is distributing the car in North America.

"We've had tremendous interest in this vehicle," Penske said. He added that there is capacity to make 130,000 to 140,000 cars annually, but the retailer is only making cars after taking orders for them.

The basic Smart car will start at $11,590, while the convertible's base price would be $16,590, Penske said. The first cars will be in U.S. showrooms in December.

Penske said customers, when reconfirming their order, are asking for more options than the company had originally expected.

"People are buying a car with more content," Penske said. "In fact, the reconfirmation reservation is adding another $1,000 (to their order)."

Bear Stearns in June upgraded Penske Automotive Group to "outperform" from "peer perform," saying the company's shares would benefit from broader consumer and market awareness of the Smart micro-car.

The company said target customers for the Smart car include: first-time car buyers, urban sophisticates, baby boomers looking for a second car, and "empty-nest" parents.

The Smart car is less than nine feet long, has a fuel economy of 40 mph, and is designed to make a 6-foot, 5-inch driver and passenger feel comfortable, the company said.

So far, the Daimler unit has been unprofitable since its launch in 1998. Despite about selling 750,000 cars in 36 countries, the company has lost billions of dollars.

Sales fell to 102,700 units in 2006 from 124,300 vehicles in 2005. Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche has made profitability at Smart one of his priorities.
 

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Relief

I'm relieved to hear the numbers from the "horses" mouth. I was really worried that my August reservation was "too late for '08." I'm feeling much more confident on getting a car in 2008 now. :rolleyes:
If I could only decide on colors/options.......
 

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Good news, Indeed! I'll be looking for those demos on the showroom floor in December!! Ofcourse, first they must make the showroom floor.....:)
 

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My favorite quote:

"We've had tremendous interest in this vehicle," Penske said. He added that there is capacity to make 130,000 to 140,000 cars annually, but the retailer is only making cars after taking orders for them.

This backs up what I heard weeks ago from a very reliable source. Each showroom will have 3 cars on the showroom floor. A pure, a passion, and a passion cabriolet. Orders will then be placed for the customer specific vehicle. The Smart brand manager (thats what the salesmen are called) will sell you a car and he/she will ALSO be the one you report to for service of that vehicle. Interesting concept and one I think is overdue in the car industry.

All the best,
Aaron Lephart
 

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My favorite quote:

"We've had tremendous interest in this vehicle," Penske said. He added that there is capacity to make 130,000 to 140,000 cars annually, but the retailer is only making cars after taking orders for them.
Haha thats mine too. I made my reservation 3 weeks ago so it gives me hope I might have a shot to get one in 08. What Im wondering about is if they can really make that many cars, why not expedite the ordering process and get more emails out quicker.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Each showroom will have 3 cars on the showroom floor. A pure, a passion, and a passion cabriolet. Orders will then be placed for the customer specific vehicle.
I LIKE IT!
 

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So far, the Daimler unit has been unprofitable since its launch in 1998. Despite about selling 750,000 cars in 36 countries, the company has lost billions of dollars.
Wow Billions Lets hope it takes off in the usa so they will keep make these cool little cars for the world to enjoy.
Glen
 

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Hard to imagine

So far, the Daimler unit has been unprofitable since its launch in 1998. Despite about selling 750,000 cars in 36 countries, the company has lost billions of dollars.
Wow Billions Lets hope it takes off in the usa so they will keep make these cool little cars for the world to enjoy.
Glen
I just can't quite picture this car, as popular as it is, being a loss leader for THAT long....:(

I would hope that turns around once they hit the streets in the good ole US of A!! :)
 

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WOW this is excellent info...excellent... :)

I registered mine OCT 5th so I just hope I can still get mine by the end of 2008.
 

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Sales were about 100,000 in 06.

He said they have capacity for 125-140.

Now lets pretend and assume that sales for 07 were down 10%.....that's 90,000.

Now assuming a world wide sales equal to last year....that leaves production available for about 40,000 cars. If you add it up, they are going to be pretty close to max production, but we should all get car's next year, even if some us will be getting them late in the year. I don't mind getting it late, say October, but it would be a bummer to get it right about the time they announce new options like CDI coming in a couple of extra months on the 09???????

You can bet it will happen, that's what all of the car manufacturers do, to create extra sales the next year or try not to lose sales numbers.

One last thought.....saying you have capacity to make more units, but having never actually accomplised the extra capacity isn't alway the same.
 

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Very interesting that the people who are confirming are adding options for an average of $1,000.00. Did the original reservation ask for options or just model and colors? I can't recall.
 

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I do like the fact that US production is now in the 20 - 25K range. Certainly should be able to get my July order by the end of MY 2008!

Things are looking good...I expect the official dealership announcements should be out soon too!
 

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Billions lost: maybe not Smartie's losses???

So far, the Daimler unit has been unprofitable since its launch in 1998. Despite about selling 750,000 cars in 36 countries, the company has lost billions of dollars.
Sales fell to 102,700 units in 2006 from 124,300 vehicles in 2005. Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche has made profitability at Smart one of his priorities.
Accounting practices in large corporations often shift losses and profits among various divisions. Is the smartie that unprofitable, or is it a victim of Chrysler or some other division costs? Since Chrysler has departed for "private equity fields", maybe smartie will look better this year and next. Especially with the shot in the arm (or wheel) from all of US(A).
Cheers to Dieter!!:cool:
 

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I find it rather hard to believe that the company has lost billions since '98 on a single car model of which 750,000 have been sold. The numbers don't add up. :( Sometimes that *BILLION* word gets thrown around alittle too much to suit me....both on the profit and the loss side. Consider XOM's '06 profit of 40 Billion, I can't even imagine that much money.
 

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It's possible - R&D of new cars is hugely expensive, and we know the forfour and roadster (sigh) didn't sell well.
 

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The word has been around that the forfour and roadster operated at large loses and design work on the discontinued suv cost big bucks. The fortwo did alright on it's own but when grouped with the others, the division lost bucks.
 
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