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Coincidence, not cause and effect.  Linking the transmission (goofy behavior? Really?  Maybe the 450 tranny behaves that way...) to sales numbers is a real leap of logic.  Whatever the reasons for the sales numbers, I'm not sure any of us here (other than the smart USA/DVI folks) have the facts.  The rest of us have opinions, and we know what those are like. :D

I've been watching these forums since I bought my new 2011 smart back in March and I've noticed a lot of "they should do this, and they should do that to make the smart a better car". I'm sure if you added enough stuff to the car you could turn it into a Hummer or Cadillac, and also tack on the price accordingly.Sure you could add a backseat, a bigger motor, an automatic transmission, a longer wheelbase, etc. etc., but then why buy a smart. At that point for the same price as that tricked out smart would be you could buy a Renault 500, or the more practical Ford Fiesta. How about a Chevy Cruze, or one of a myriad of other low mileage cars.When I bought my Smart I paid about $11,340, about a $3000 savings and it came with air-conditioning. Had it been closer in retail price I would've bought something else. This one was cheap, high fuel mileage, and looked to be very well built. As far as what people perceived to be shortcomings I don't view it as that, I view them as personality traits. As far the transmission, is not really all that unique. This is the same identical style transmission they've been putting in semi trucks for the last several years, albeit with several more gears. I personally like the transmission, I get the fuel mileage of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. Outside of price and fuel economy, the only thing smart really has going for it is its uniqueness. Take all that away and who would want to buy one of the things.

I personally think if Smart tries to make the car more mainstream they would kill it.

Just my two cents worth.

Could not have said it better.  Thanks.

Corky A Freeman said:

I've been watching these forums since I bought my new 2011 smart back in March and I've noticed a lot of "they should do this, and they should do that to make the smart a better car". I'm sure if you added enough stuff to the car you could turn it into a Hummer or Cadillac, and also tack on the price accordingly.Sure you could add a backseat, a bigger motor, an automatic transmission, a longer wheelbase, etc. etc., but then why buy a smart. At that point for the same price as that tricked out smart would be you could buy a Renault 500, or the more practical Ford Fiesta. How about a Chevy Cruze, or one of a myriad of other low mileage cars.When I bought my Smart I paid about $11,340, about a $3000 savings and it came with air-conditioning. Had it been closer in retail price I would've bought something else. This one was cheap, high fuel mileage, and looked to be very well built. As far as what people perceived to be shortcomings I don't view it as that, I view them as personality traits. As far the transmission, is not really all that unique. This is the same identical style transmission they've been putting in semi trucks for the last several years, albeit with several more gears. I personally like the transmission, I get the fuel mileage of a manual with the convenience of an automatic. Outside of price and fuel economy, the only thing smart really has going for it is its uniqueness. Take all that away and who would want to buy one of the things.

 

I personally think if Smart tries to make the car more mainstream they would kill it.

Just my two cents worth.

Corky, you make a great point. The uniqueness of smart was/ is a big selling point for me. I was concerned about the Nissan cooperation to bring a forfour or forfive just to the US market, simply for the reason that it would be just another vanilla box. I know MB is working with Renault on the next Gen and I am sure it will be a lot less unique. The 451 to me is a perfect mix between quirkiness and simple, reliable functionality. It improved greatly on the 450 in many aspects and lost some of the originality in the process, I am not sure how much more originality I would be willing to give up for the next Gen. I do like the look of the forspeED concept and hope they carry a lot of that over to the future, and: please don't lose the RWD!

I'm OK with leaving it just the way it is.... but do any of you fanboyz think:

1) if you leave it the way it is will sales improve?

2) if sales don't improve will the brand remain viable?

 

I don't know that fixing the transmission will make sales skyrocket, or whether America is ripe for another Le Car, but I'm pretty darn sure  it can't stay the way it is now, not in the US anyway.

 

3) What about the smart absolutely HAS to remain?

4)  What can go in the way of making the brand more palatable to make the brand more viable?

5) at it's core, what defines the smart?

 

Is it the awesome transmission, the panorama roof that cracks, or the other things that make it 'unique' and 'quirky'?

I wonder... but I mostly think it could loose a little of the bad, and still keep the main core and essence of what it is, if not, maybe they should just return to the 450... or is there no room for improvement?

 

I think rather than defend the things that are off-putting to people, perhaps the die-hard defend-the-car-at-any-cost fanbozs could use the forum to voice to MB what they RALLY like about the smart and don't want to see changed, or offer some suggestions one how to improve it without destroying it's core appeal.

Kenny, what is it that makes support of the car, while acknowledging its quirks, result in name calling?  I don't think anyone has ever referred to people who list what they reasonably perceive as defects in the car as "smart haters" or similar terms.  What's happening is a difference of opinion, nothing more.  A healthy discussion of the various issues with the car is a good thing; name calling, not so much.  As you know, the brand is viable worldwide while struggling in North America.  The smart fortwo is a world car sold in a variety of markets.  I doubt M-B is willing to make the car any more "un-smart" than it already is just to please a very small part of its market.  They already took a lot of flak from the rest of the world over the 451 changes and I don't think trying to sell a smaller version of a Dodge Caliber worldwide is really in the cards for M-B. 

Kenny Andersen said:

I'm OK with leaving it just the way it is.... but do any of you fanboyz think:

1) if you leave it the way it is will sales improve?

2) if sales don't improve will the brand remain viable?

 

I don't know that fixing the transmission will make sales skyrocket, or whether America is ripe for another Le Car, but I'm pretty darn sure  it can't stay the way it is now, not in the US anyway.

 

3) What about the smart absolutely HAS to remain?

4)  What can go in the way of making the brand more palatable to make the brand more viable?

5) at it's core, what defines the smart?

 

Is it the awesome transmission, the panorama roof that cracks, or the other things that make it 'unique' and 'quirky'?

I wonder... but I mostly think it could loose a little of the bad, and still keep the main core and essence of what it is, if not, maybe they should just return to the 450... or is there no room for improvement?

 

I think rather than defend the things that are off-putting to people, perhaps the die-hard defend-the-car-at-any-cost fanbozs could use the forum to voice to MB what they RALLY like about the smart and don't want to see changed, or offer some suggestions one how to improve it without destroying it's core appeal.

Yes Kenny, I really like most things about the way the smart is now, and I don't care (enough) about the roof crazing, but sure: improve that, and improve the shifting of the transmission (which again, I like with the paddle shifters the way it is, because there are pros and cons to any design and engineering solution (such as weight - if we could get a dual clutch that stays lean, I am all for that).

What I am worried about is that a currently light weight, minimalist, yet availed with all the luxuries of larger cars (rain sensors, heated seats, ESP, remote entry/courtesy lighting, etc.) morphs into a run-of-the-mill econo-box. I don't want the smart brand to be main stream. Can it be successful at relatively low sales numbers? I don't know what MB needs to target to make/keep the brand viable. Right now it is just about Cafe standards in the US, but cars can be successful in lower volumes (as long as the profit margin is right). Beyond that smart as a brand needs to be expanded much like BMW did with the Mini brand. To me the current smart incarnation is a great balance of fun and economy.

A couple of examples to (maybe) explain my sentiments: I think the original VW beetle was/is a great car. There are many things that you could find fault with, but the concept was clear, simple, and convincing. The new beetle on the other hand is merely a formalistic expression of nostalgia. A Golf in a different outfit. Smart remains a unique automotive concept. I want that to remain. It is sort of like the discussion as to whether front wheel drive or rear wheel drive is better, stick shift or automatic is better. There are good points to be made for either approach, it doesn't make either one "better" in the absolute.

Look at Apple Inc.: Most people still "prefer" windows machines for whatever reasons, but Apple is more profitable than any other tech company. The complaint about the smart transmission reminds me of the discussions every time Apple did something that wasn't main stream: "computers without a floppy drive? ... that will never work; no removable batteries? ... no way ..."

Improvement requests for the smart: Maybe add another gear to the transmission which will allow you to shift better/allow software to further improve shifting points? Definitely bring other engine options to the US: A cdi, a brabus turbo. Continue to focus on build quality: substitute an LED lighting system (turn signals, etc.). I love the subtle styling/design improvements for the 2011 model year (interior). Maybe take up some of the aftermarket options such as air intake/filter improvements, stiffer motor mount, progressive springs in the back, (serious) air horn, HID low beam lights, better speakers. Oh yeah: A heated steering wheel would great.

The smart is a driver's car, not a utility box (although it provides plenty of utility). MB will never be able to beat Honda, Nissan, Toyota, KIA in the small/cheap econo-car business and I am more than ok with that, if MB has a business model that works for them. I am willing to compromise to keep the brand around, but don't offer me another product that I can buy elsewhere. I like cars like the Nissan Cube (I also own a Honda Element and am very disappointed that Honda discontinued it). Don't expect brand loyalty from me for brand's sake.

smart isn't for everyone, but Chevy and Toyota aren't for me, and I can't afford Aston Martin, Maserati, or Bugatti :)
Oh, and Kenny, if you want a more "vanilla" smart: Toyota makes it, it's called the (Scion) iQ :)
Its CVT "shifts" smoothly (I hear), it also has a rear seat (in case you want to take certain relatives along, unlike me).
But: the interior is markedly cheap (I sat in it), gas mileage isn't as good as the smart's, the base price is higher (and you will have the "street cred" of a teenager, mmmh - pass :)).

Another improvement thought for the smart: Please bring a torque-y more affordable electric drive version to market.

I don't know about all the other smart cars, but with mine, I can place the shifter into manual and shift it like a manual drive pretty much. My wife likes the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. As for me, I like to keep my hand on the shifter to shift the gears. It's not quite the same as my previous manual shift sports cars but close enough to feel sporty. There is a choice, auto assist or manual.

Not everybody is going like this car no matter what is changed about it. Pick a market for a few groups and go with it. The most important thing IMHO is to correct the current problems and make the current unsatisfied owners happy by fixing the defects.

I'm just wishing someone a bit higher up the service chain than a service associate at Smart Center Devon in Devon, PA could contact me to help get some of my OTHER issues fixed.  Aside from the crazing roof (which as far as i'm aware there still isn't a permanent fix for), and the Brabus fuel filler door sticker falling off for a second time (not much of a shocker there....).  My rear rims on my Brabus are dented to the point where now the passenger side loses air constantly once the weather turns decidedly cold, while the driver side just yesterday lost just about every psi of air in less than 24 hours.  Literally filled the tire the night before up to 35psi... the next afternoon could push in on any part of the tire with my thumb.

 

The previous Smart Center Devon... the one i bought my car from... awesome to work with.  Once they closed, so far it's been a nightmare.  Smart Center Cherry Hill in Jersey was a joke.  Not even going to mention the BS that went on with Trevose.... PRAY that the NEW Smart Center Devon will at least be similar to the old one in terms of reliability for getting service done.

I don't believe I ever advocated making it an IQ (which has it's own set of problems), a fit, or Yaris or any other such nonsense, or even making it less chocolate as it were.  For me it's fine, in fact I see no compelling reason to abandon the 450 (which BTW DOES have a 6-speed transmission, get 50 mpg, and weighs 300 pounds less).  I got no problem with it -- I actually like that it's an orphan, and look forward to buying some really cheap smarts in the near future.

 

Perhaps, we won't know until there is some attempt at it, some actual marketing of the car would make a difference?  No matter where I go people still ask me what it is -- they still don't know even though the car has been sold in the US since 2008 (and some before that!).

 

Perhaps it's a fatal combination of several things.  Yeah, I'm happy, y'all are happy, but we seem to be in a VERY small minority...

toes said:

Oh, and Kenny, if you want a more "vanilla" smart: Toyota makes it, it's called the (Scion) iQ :)
Its CVT "shifts" smoothly (I hear), it also has a rear seat (in case you want to take certain relatives along, unlike me).
But: the interior is markedly cheap (I sat in it), gas mileage isn't as good as the smart's, the base price is higher (and you will have the "street cred" of a teenager, mmmh - pass :)).

Another improvement thought for the smart: Please bring a torque-y more affordable electric drive version to market.
I guess smart USA/DVI wasn't as clear as they could have been when they said the marketing campaign would kick off with the arrival of the 2012 models in October...

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