For 8 long years, Annie has been the smiling face of the smart brand primarily in Europe where in Germany, the smart fortwo has had a 40% market share for three years running. Aside from her occasional cameo appearances at auto shows in the U.S., we hardly know her?Was she good for the brand?
Five years ago, Mercedes was about to order the shut-down of its Smart micro-car unit. The little two-seater had been in production since 1998, but it kept hemorrhaging money. Yet quite apart from the costs of a shut-down — both in worker, dealer and customer compensation, and in corporate pride — there was another factor in Smart’s favor. Senior management, all the way up to Dieter Zetsche, believed that this tiny urban car was an idea whose time would come. It just needed a partner to help finance the development of the next-generation car, and to get some scale economies.We knocked the removal of the gasser, but she was partially correct, she just didn't properly anticipate demand in good old Germany.