Smart Car of America Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,476 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
The Frankfurt Auto Show opens on September 10th -- just FOUR weeks from today -- we'll likely (finally) see a near-approximation of the next-generation ForTwo and ForFour.

In thinking back to the excitement of 2007 about the smart and the fervor to place an order, I began to wonder about the mood and expectation among fellow smarties this time as we get very close to seeing "what's next?"

Personally, I hope others are as eager as I am for these reveals. I love the smart, and expect that Mercedes will have respected all that was right with it, and ruthlessly analyzed and fixed all that was wrong.

Anyone else here with a similar level of enthusiasm, eager anxiety, or cautious optimism? Or, are your expectations low?


Sent from AutoGuide.com App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,192 Posts
Actually I am not as excited as I feel I should be. It's been so long in coming and it still isn't the production model. Tired of waiting and the US debut keeps getting pushed back. The lack of commitment so far with the existing model and treatment at the dealers doesn't inspire confidence in the future.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,763 Posts
Very astutely put, Stretch! The lack of communication regarding KNOWN issues to the techs at the dealers is more than a little disappointing.
If they can't figure it out, they blame it on bad gas or bad car wash chemicals that are most certainly the fault of the owner (peeling clear coat). Red cars shouldn't peel!
Heaven forbid the owner "goes into the engine" and swaps out a fuel injector from another smart. That is certainly worth denying warranty work. And no, I haven't forgiven them for that one nor did they service my car for cash, either. At least I didn't get charged for "complimentary" floor mats like someone else. Oh, MY! NO LUBE!
A fortwo+two or stretch which they are not going to do, would have been the ticket, but no, and we are not going to get it anyway. And that roadster would have been a star, too, but no. The new dual clutch transmission will help for sure,.... if we get it...
I know, we will probably get the new fortwo retrofitted with the 451 transmission and engine, for the US market only, in order to keep costs down. :D
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
28,785 Posts
I'm waiting for the first leaked photos prior to Frankfurt and then actual photos and info on these "concept" cars (which will be very, very close to the production versions.) What we're hearing so far is good - more hp, the dual clutch transmission and a "high output" engine (hopefully for the BRABUS.) Can't happen soon enough. Not so excited about the forfour, although happy to see anything new from smart. The rumored crossover version - could not care less. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,752 Posts
I'm not interested. 1. MB $ervice price$. 2. Nearest MB/smart dealer is over an hour away in congested, downtown Seattle.

Regards,

Dan
 

·
Premium Member
MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
Joined
·
7,705 Posts
The Frankfurt Auto Show opens on September 10th -- just FOUR weeks from today -- we'll likely (finally) see a near-approximation of the next-generation ForTwo and ForFour.

Personally, I hope others are as eager as I am for these reveals. I love the smart, and expect that Mercedes will have respected all that was right with it, and ruthlessly analyzed and fixed all that was wrong.

Anyone else here with a similar level of enthusiasm, eager anxiety, or cautious optimism? Or, are your expectations low?

Sent from AutoGuide.com App
Steven I'll have some of what is in your baggie (coffee beans of course). :wink:

With the way the Ed launch has been fumbled and delayed in the U.S. I expect more of the same with the roll-out of the 453.

"The excitement of 2007 about the smart and the fervor to place an order" is dead as we live with the reality of smart.

There remain a number of smart supporters (and early adopters) who have weathered the PAG to M-B transition and are just about out of "enthusiasm, eager anxiety, or cautious optimism."

Simply put, M-B/smart, smartUSA and the miserable dealer network have caused smart owners, many of whom waited over a year to get their first smart, to see the smart for what it is, not what it could or should have been.

You say that you "expect that Mercedes will have respected all that was right with it, and ruthlessly analyzed and fixed all that was wrong." If anything in excess of 25% of the existing 451 parts are carried over into the ALL NEW 453, M-B will have learned nothing.

We must remember though that smart is a World "CITY" Car and as such the N.A. market is but a pimple on the elephants butt with most U.S. owners taking their usage waaay beyond "city."

M-B/smart really doesn't care what was wrong which is borne out by their not contacting current owners suggesting that they come in for software updates (free?) to improve the drive-ability and safety of their smart.

Past performance causes this smart enthusiast to have low expectations - here's hoping that they surprise us. :cheers:

Note: $99 refundable deposits appear to have died as the local $tealer wanted a $2,500 non-refundable deposit to configure an Ed in the "build pipeline" that is now delayed until ???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,013 Posts
a lot of people's attitudes will likely be based on "what have you done for me lately?". I'm thinking more globally and am probably even more excited than I was in 2007. In part due to the extensive investments Daimler has put into smart over the past few years, and in part because after 15 years the smart remains a unique proposition.

I traded my 2008 for a 2012 last year, with a 4 year warranty, so a 2015-2016 timeframe for the 453 is not a problem for me.

I'm thinking that there will be a little more news coming before Frankfurt, at smart times 13, in Switzerland next week.

Mercedes is now experimenting with online sales, similar to how we bought our smarts in 2007. I'd like to see smart adopt something like a modified Tesla sales model in the future, with smart brand shops in big cities.

"Mercedes said the online sales initiative results from limited space in inner cities for showrooms to display its growing product lineup and also because in the age of the internet and social networks, modern customers in particular "expect to be able to interact with a brand anywhere and at any time."

Mercedes will also double to 20 the number of its central, inner-city showrooms, which it calls "urban brand outlets.'' It opened the first such outlet in 1995 on the Champs-Elysees in Paris and later expanded to cities including Berlin Milan, New York, Beijing and Tokyo."

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20130812/ANE/130819996/mercedes-will-launch-online-sales-stores-by-year-end#ixzz2bx7K4tDZ
 

·
DrKillerBee
Joined
·
1,488 Posts
If you hit you head against a wall often enough you will expect pain and then a dull sensation. It sounds like that is where most of you are at this time and that is sad.
Being relatively new to smart but old in cult cars (Minis, Miatas, SSRs etc) I am surprised by the consistent perceived attitude of Mercedes that the smart just doesn't warrant the attention and commitment that it takes to develop a brand and cult following. City cars will become more and more important in the near future and I am surprised by Mercedes lack of foresight by treating smart as a nuisance instead of an ally. I am too new to have experienced much dealer abuse in the service area and I didn't experience the Penske/MB switch over but the way they have not handled the ED launch gives me more than pause.
It sounds like you guys have hit your smart head often enough that your senses have dulled and you are expecting to be handed more of the "SOS." I am starting to understand why.
I am preparing to go to OTD, have been to the April Fools rally, and to the Nationals in Denver. I met a lot of enthusiastic smarties that haven't yet been dulled beyond recognition and I wished that the Mercedes execs had been there to understand the passion that you guys and gals have for driving your smarts. It might have had a contagious effect in the board room that would give us more hope for a better "smart" environment in the future.
ps MB DNA really hit the nail on the head in his comments!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
465 Posts
I'm old, sorta anyways. I got over drooling over the latest things years ago. I've been raped over new cars so many times that I could care less about any new car coming out.

Having said that, I got my '13 Pure because it was just what I wanted. I didn't want an auto or full manual at this point. Don't like auto's and a heel spur keeps me from enjoying my manuals the way I always have. So I feel the major complaint by many of the auto/manual is a great way to have my cake and eat it too. I like my 451 just the way it is. That's why I didn't wait. I wanted the older one. At least we know where the glitches are with these. New ones will have new bugs to figure out how to resolve.

I've always been a firm believer in auto evolution not revolution. It's worked out well for Porsche for around 50 years now with the 911!
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
28,785 Posts
Official or not, the GLA info has been out there for months - it's a ready for prime time car. The 453 is still technically a concept - although production starts next year. What we'll get (maybe) is a few leaked photos of the Frankfurt "concept" cars.

KillerBee is on to something IMHO. While there were smart USA reps at the April Fools rally and the Denver Nationals they were pretty low key and they weren't the heavy hitters. Awhile ago several owners proposed a "smarts come home" gathering at the New Jersey smart USA headquarters; after some initial positive comments from smart USA the whole thing died. Still think a big group of smarts showing up on the HQ front lawn would be a good thing - most of the corporate M-B USA folks (and even some at smart USA) seem to have no concept of what the car is or how to relate to smart owners vs. the normal Mercedes owners. Still waiting for the General Manager, Mark Webster, to make an appearance at one of the owner organized (since smart USA won't organize any) events. The fact that he's MIA so far really sends the wrong message. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,013 Posts
"there were smart USA reps at the April Fools rally and the Denver Nationals they were pretty low key and they weren't the heavy hitters."

the US is a big country. potentially it's a big market. realistically it's an expensive market. smart is a global brand. smart is gearing up for a worldwide users' meeting next week in Switzerland. smart historically has been a presence at smart times, over the past years.

a vocal minority on this and other smart forums have had problems that exasperate them, yet their passion for the brand, or their S&M tendencies keep them on here posting, even if it is mostly whining from their fiat 500s at this stage, as if thumbing their noses at smart. this shows the depth of the attraction that smart has. unfortunately it also shows the level of engagement any attempt at reaching out by smartUSA is likely to receive.

to expect smart USA to spend the kind of time and money at this stage people seem to want them to, in order to rub up against the owner community, or to build meta-niche vehicles seems unrealistic. they just spent a lot of money on the testdrive events, all through surrogates. it will take a while to recoup that investment. EVs are a part of the future, but EVs are still a regional market now. I don't expect smart to compete with an F-150. I don't want them to sell me an optional pillow package for the engine cover and call it a 2+2. smart's recent expansion of the brand into e-bikes is largely overlooked in this country (even illegal in NYC), and the forfour is a logical, safe and somewhat proven extension at the automotive end. They still speak of scooters. a roadster would be a halo model, but not out of the question. a crossover would be a disaster in my view, even if it were profitable, as it would blur the brand's main message.

but smart's big picture is global, and global can exist without the US market. I still consider myself fortunate that I have the opportunity to own a smart, and I have a long history of chasing brands that were not big sellers. I also count myself among smart's target audience, and am well-served by their existing US infrastructure. even though I don't drive much in the city, I am within walking distance of my dealer. I get it that they are an urban brand. I get it that they are targeting buyers that are 1-2 people.

they might want to look at some demographics and see if they can't find a way to extend their target market for pre-childbearing couples to also include post-childbearing couples. there's a huge growth potential there. the same dynamics that are moving 60% of the world's people to cities (jobs, quality of life, healthcare, etc.) includes an aging population.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
11,309 Posts
Official or not, the GLA info has been out there for months - it's a ready for prime time car. The 453 is still technically a concept - although production starts next year. What we'll get (maybe) is a few leaked photos of the Frankfurt "concept" cars.

KillerBee is on to something IMHO. While there were smart USA reps at the April Fools rally and the Denver Nationals they were pretty low key and they weren't the heavy hitters. Awhile ago several owners proposed a "smarts come home" gathering at the New Jersey smart USA headquarters; after some initial positive comments from smart USA the whole thing died. Still think a big group of smarts showing up on the HQ front lawn would be a good thing - most of the corporate M-B USA folks (and even some at smart USA) seem to have no concept of what the car is or how to relate to smart owners vs. the normal Mercedes owners. Still waiting for the General Manager, Mark Webster, to make an appearance at one of the owner organized (since smart USA won't organize any) events. The fact that he's MIA so far really sends the wrong message. :)
I agree. Even Jill showed up and talked briefly despite her mis-speak of the smart/saturn name, she at least had the class to show up.
 

·
Premium Member
MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
Joined
·
7,705 Posts
"there were smart USA reps at the April Fools rally and the Denver Nationals they were pretty low key and they weren't the heavy hitters."

smart historically has been a presence at smart times, over the past years.
Sadly the smartUSA reps at recent events in the U.S. were not decision makers and while nice that they were there, they were on a corporate boon-doogle.

smart times, more than a presence - the major $ponsor!

Obviously the suits at smart will not be attending OTD this year as they have a better offer - smart times 13 takes place in Lucerne, Switzerland August 23-25, 2013.

smart ? smart world ? events & sponsorship ? smart times

https://www.facebook.com/smart.international?sk=app_105181166239498
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,109 Posts
I agree. Even Jill showed up and talked briefly despite her mis-speak of the smart/saturn name, she at least had the class to show up.
That's funny. :p I would have appreciated that Saturn is still on the brain. Jill is fantastic at what she does. I bet even she got a laugh out of that one.

Anyhow; I had 2 women from SmartUSA come out to the 1st Watkins Glen Rally for us. That's how we got on the official Facebook page in 2012. :D They shipped out boxes of gifts for us, and I was extremely hopeful that it was a sign of good things.

Well, other than some chatting, the interest seems to have already dwindled from SmartUSA. Smart Center Buffalo took it upon themselves to come out on their own dime and their own time. The folks like us that work with the cars are extremely passionate, like Latham and Buffalo in New York.

The head-cheeses on the other hand seem to look down at us the same way General Motors looked down at Saturn. Sadly, unless things change, I wouldn't doubt that Smart may go the same direction Saturn did - which still won't both me, because I'll have my blue 2008 Smart forever. :)

I'd like to see more interest more often. That's my only complaint.

All that being said, I'm doing what I do for Apple product launches. I'm interested, I keep informed, I get excited, but I don't get my hopes up too high too early.

My future Smart ED (to complement my ICE) is going to be a 451. I'm too used too the perks and quirks to give up my knowledge of the 451 for a totally new 453.
 

·
DrKillerBee
Joined
·
1,488 Posts
I can appreciate the way that dennyrex feels however but I don't think they should be let off the hook so easily. I really don't think that Mercedes gets the cult car thing at all. Mazda brought out the Miata when the car market said that the convertible era was over. Their designers and corporate promoters stood behind the car, were present at gatherings, and were idolized by Miataphiles who had them sign their names in and on their prized Miatas. Mini filled a niche market in the early 2000s and have grown into a non niche car company. Their methods have been purposely strange but successful. BMW tried to engage their Mini faithful to a wildly different level than Mercedes/smart USA.
I sincerely question the commitment of M/B given their indifference to the smart faithful in the states. How hard would it be to take even two people from each dealership to headquarters and really indoctrinate them into the smart car and it's maintenance. There should be a go to guy or gal in each sales department and service department that REALLY knows and LOVES the smart inside and out. It just makes sense but they don't seem interested in doing something like that.
I know at least one salesperson will be attending OTD and that dealership and salesperson should be lauded for their commitment but corporate wishes to be not represented and should be cited for their indifference...I wouldn't want them representing or marketing my business...not even something as small as my clinic. By the way MB DNA...I know how to treat that "pimple on the elephant's butt.." and I would be glad to show M/B how to do it.
Get rid of one exec's salary and invest in rubbing elbows with the smart owners and M/B could learn far more than what that one exec might recommend.
The US should be considered as a real part of the global market and should be treated that way...it makes business sense. Enthusiasm for people and product and the communication of that enthusiasm will cost far less in the short term than the inattention and snobbery will cost in the long term.
Someone needs to plant a bomb in that pimple to get their attention...(not a real bomb of course if homeland security is watching.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,476 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Great comments so far.

I wonder if (suspect that) Mercedes has been caught in its own since-the-Penske-inception indecisiveness about the smart brand in USAmerica. There is no worse place to be than in limbo, and not seeing a clear strategic path. Limbo causes inaction.

My hope is that the 453 may represent a "getting off the fence" commitment to embrace our market, and finally provide a product line worthy of public and media respect.

The lack of clarity by Mercedes over the smart's role in USAmerica -- and how it should relate to its core product line -- has created what seeks like corporate apathy which several have referenced, I believe. A sort-of brand paralysis.

Now that Mercedes is launching a next-generation here sans Penske, with a broader product line, it seems to suggest that Mercedes may, at last, see that "decisively forward" is the only way it can go with smart. No more finger-pointing for how the smart brand got dumped into our vehicle-savvy market. As such, Mercedes has been forced to realize that there can be no more excuses for producing cars that routinely end up on reviewers' 'worst' and 'most embarrassing' lists.

That's why I think this new launch is so important. Both Mercedes and smart are evolving, albeit by market-driven pressure from which there is now no escape. A lot more is a stake with the 453 smart, and I strongly believe Mercedes realizes that it must hit a home run.

I spent my career as an automotive marketer, and am fascinated to see how Mercedes will play its next move. Ideally, they will take a "we've listened" approach that won't be based on empty promises. They need to smack the 'reset' button real hard, and I believe they will.

Stay tuned! (27 days to go.)


Sent from AutoGuide.com App
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,192 Posts
If they focused a little more on the older generation whose kids have left. They could treat the smart as a stepping stone to bigger Mercedes. If one bought a smart and was impressed by the service, support and engineering in a smart then when the wife, brother or kid was looking to buy a sedan, then recommending a Mercedes would not be far fetched. There are only a few that only have a smart. Most own other vehicles. Why not a Mercedes instead of a Taurus or Flex? But as it is now, most owners have been alienated and wouldn't recommend the brand if it and a AvtoVAZ were the only two car manufacturers available.
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top