Some industry analysts are skeptical about Smartâ€™s chances in the United States, where Trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossovers still command more than half the market and gas prices, while rising, still donâ€™t approach Europeâ€™s.
Schembri wonâ€™t say how many vehicles Smart hopes to sell in 2008, but Aaron Bragman, an analyst with Global Insight, said he doesnâ€™t expect it will more than 20,000, and sales will probably fall off after that. By comparison, the Toyota Yaris - the most popular subcompact on the market - sold 73,874 units in the first 10 months of this year, according to Autodata Corp.
â€œI think it will be a novelty,â€ Bragman said. â€œItâ€™s a very niche market, and Iâ€™m not very sure it has much staying power.â€
Bragman said for the price, buyers could get a used car with a lot more space and practicality. Unless gas prices hit $5 to $6 a gallon, he said, itâ€™s hard to picture Smart gaining much ground.