I'm really hoping that everyone here agrees with my point of view on the subject, and that people at Smart USA see this message, including Annette Winkler.
It was roughly 10 years ago when I had seen my first Smart ForTwo here in eastern Pennsylvania. A custom wrapped 450 owned by the owner of Murphy's Jewelers in Hamburg, PA. I was only 22 then, and my mom told me i HAD to see this neat little car. As soon as i did, i knew that i wanted one. Not long after that was when it was announced that the Smart ForTwo would be making its debut in the USA in 2008, and had the $99 reservation program. Took the hour and a half drive to my nearest Smart Center to test drive one, fell in love, and put the $99 down. Eventually was offered the chance to upgrade my reservation to a ForTwo Brabus, and jumped at the opportunity. I picked up my 2009 Smart ForTwo Brabus Coupe in June of 2009. This is the picture of it i took that day after getting it home.
Owned that car until February of 2013 when i traded it in on a '13 Dodge Dart. Really wanted a car i could put roof racks on for taking my paddle board out on the lake... and unfortunately the Smart wasn't it. Really liked the style of the Dart... but unfortunately the Dart was just a bad car. Traded the Dart in on a 2016 ForTwo Prime Coupe, which i actually picked up from the "same" dealership (by "same" i mean in the same town as the last, but not the same dealership i picked up my Brabus from) an hour and a half away from home, on December 19th of 2015... which is actually my birthday, too.
Absolutely LOVE the 453. A much appreciated improvement over the 451.
What i do NOT love... is the idea that the ForTwo will no longer be available in a gasoline engine variant from here on out. This is probably the dumbest thing I've heard this year so far... and this coming after the dumb stuff said by he who was elected to run our country. As much as i hate to say it, with no option for people to buy a gasoline engine Smart after the 2017 model year, I personally do not see the ForTwo being sold in the United States into 2019, period.
My reasoning for this opinion? I've taken my ForTwo's to NUMEROUS car shows in the years that I've owned them. MANY people showed interest in the car, asking questions, taking pictures, asking if they could sit in it because they'd never seen one before. Then they ask where they sell them. You know how fast that interest dies off when they find out that the only dealership to buy one from and get warranty work done on it is over an hour drive away, minimum? Probably well before they're out of view after they walk away. I've always felt that the only thing holding back the Smart brand in the US has been the utter lack of any semblance of a dealership network. 84 Smart Centers in the ENTIRE United States! And i don't think that number has even really grown in the past 10 years. If anything it probably shrank.
Now... with ForTwo sales already looking pretty grim... it's announced that only Electric Drive models will be available? Well... you can count me out of any future purchases of a NEW ForTwo if that's the case. Why? As i said... my closest dealership is an hour and a half drive away. In miles... it's 72. I'd be lucky to even MAKE it to my dealership without killing the batteries. And if i DID make it there, i'd have to wait for the batteries to be fully charged again before making the trip back home (and ONLY back home... no detours).
Long story short.... ceasing sales of internal combustion ForTwo's is NOT the thing to do, unless you're looking to completely kill off Smart USA in no time. Expand the dealership network so people who are INTERESTED in the car actually have somewhere they can go to check them out, without needing to set aside an entire day to do so. And on top of that... Don't just advertise it as a "City Car".... because it's far from it. I took my 451 on a trip from here in eastern Pennsylvania, all the way to western North Carolina. A 9 hour drive in a SMART! And when I stopped at the gas station after getting there, some guy circling my car in his car says to me "You'd better be careful in that little thing"... apparently not noticing the Pennsylvania license plate. I've taken my 451 and now my 453 on dirt roads... mountain roads.... snowy/icy roads.... snowy/icy dirt mountain roads.... You name it, i've probably had my Smart's on it, and they handled them better than my brother's 4WD pickup truck.
It is a 56 mile trip for me. I have wanted a smart Fortwo since I first saw one. I couldn't justify the expense (having just bought a new car) until just recently when it was finally time to trade in my 2005 Chevy Aveo. I looked at the electric version, but a 75 mile range (or even the 99 mile range of the newer electric) is just too short to be usable outside of a city. Now my only hope is that smart will smarten up about the gas version or the range of the electric will be good enough when I want to trade in my 2016 smart Fortwo.
I, and I'm sure many others totally agree.
I would love to see Mercedes/Smart change their mind and continue to sell the gasoline engines here in the USA and Canada. I've owned THREE 451's. A 2010, 2012 and 2014. I loved them. I now own a 2016 Edition #1, and also love the car.
I believe smart mis-marketed the vehicles, and that's the reason for the poor sales. Surely, it's a great city car, but here in the USA, city cars don't sell. Even in large cities like New York, the people use public transportation or walk. The electric is even more of a city car, which will end up being a failure in the USA and Canada.
Because of the mis-marketing, I continue to have people ask me if I can drive my car on the highway and question it's safety. What smart should be doing, is marketing the car for people that live in the country, like me. People that don't need a big car, but want a car with personality. Yes, the smart is completely safe on the highway. Yes, it's amazingly fun to drive on the twisting back roads where I live. They should also have fun marketing it. While we can all agree that smart cars are not sports cars. They do have a pretty cool little engine and the 453 with turbo could be marketed as a fun-to-drive zippy car in town, on the highway, and down country roads. Smart missed out on marketing to the majority of people in the USA. Obviously smarts are not for everyone. They are a niche vehicle. But smart closed in that niche even more by not marketing the vehicle right. My thoughts on the all electric engine... It's not for me. I need a vehicle that can go at least 300 miles on a charge to even consider it. I would love to find a way to actually get in touch with smart USA and meet with them about keeping the turbo-gas engines, offer my ideas on how best to market them in the USA and Canada. I own a small, but successful advertising agency. I believe I could help sales a great deal, if given the opportunity.
I wish they would reconsider their decision or offer ICE engined smarts by special order. I seriously doubt that they will ever reconsider their decision. Looks like the President of MBUSA made the decision.
Glad to see such a response from my fellow Smart owners.
Something else I wanted to add to my previous statement. To be completely honest, I could see the current dealership network actually working out (although some of the INCREDIBLY sparse areas COULD use another Smart Center spattered here and there). But the ONLY way I could see it working out is if the Smart could only be purchased at Smart Center's, but SERVICED at any Mercedes Benz dealership. Granted, those aren't quite as around the corner as your usual Ford, Chevy, or Kia dealership... but it's far better than Smart's current offering.
smarts are so basic, I can't see why they wouldn't service them at any MB dealer. I service mine myself. And any warranty work should be simple. Still, I don't think Mercedes/Smart will listen or hear us. They have made up their mind. But let's not give up!