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Penske to Drop Daimler Smart Brand Amid Abysmal Sales

Smarts.jpg

In brief: The Penske Automotive Group, which sells, leases, and rents cars around North America, is dropping the Daimler Smart car line from its offerings.

The word

Smarts

The Smart line of vehicles, including the Smart ForTwo and upcoming TwoFour electrics. In the new setup, the Smart line will revert back to Daimler AG for U.S. and Canadian sales.

The move is not too surprising given the abysmal numbers of sales the Smart line has had. When introduced in March 2008 (gasoline), the Smart hit sales of nearly 3,000 units a month in April and May of that year. June and July saw sales of about 2,500 units and then sales dropped, never to recover, with the January 2011 figures at less than 400 units.

Many problems likely contributed to the Smart's losing sales: the recession, long delays in bringing the electric version to market, bad reviews from auto magazines, etc. all contributed.

The restructuring of agreements means that the anticipated Nissan-made Smart TwoFour may not be built at all and the Smart brand will revert to Daimler, who likely needs the ultra-fuel-efficient cars in their lineup to more easily meet CAFE standards with the EPA.

Penske, for their part, has apparently been quietly dealing with BMW to license the new electric Mini which may be forthcoming soon. Retaining Smart would have created a market conflict under the Penske banner.

And so ...

Whatever the circumstances, Penske took a gamble on the Smart line that didn't seem to pay off.

Photo credits: Edmunds

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