I find this interesting. Penske / smart USA has brought in an outside design house to work on both exterior and interior design for the four-seat smart being developed (evidently for customers in the US) with help from Nissan. I had thought that Penske was simply a very influential distributor, but evidently smart USA has gone one step further and is doing the Nissan deal without the participation of the mother ship back in Germany.

 

Does anyone know how this is going to work? Daimler has promised to update the corporate smart line by adding a new vehicle they are developing with help from Renault. Renault and Nissan are joined at the hip, but Daimler controls the smart manufacturing facility in France, and they are not in on the deal with Nissan. Will Daimler simply agree to produce a Nissan design Penske ships them? Or will smart USA start its own semi-independent design, manufacturing and sourcing deal with / from Nissan?

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Daimler is absolutely part of the deal on the next generation smart: link

Penske/smart USA may have some input but as with the current 451 Daimler will control the design and engineering aspects of the new car.

As for the soon-to-arrive reworked Nissan, smart USA is doing that with the permission of Daimler for the US market alone.
Penske (smart USA) has to be feeling the pressure of the reduced sales on the fortwo and its impact on the dealer network. They most likely could not wait the extra year or so it will take for the Daimler/ Renault partnership to bring something new here. That is not expected to produce anything until around the 2013 model year.

So Penske must have got the Go ahead from Germany to make the smart USA/ Nissan vehicle happen. We should see that car in about 1 year from now.

I have a feeling this may have been a continuation of concepts and negotiations that happened back when Penske was looking into Purchasing Saturn.
If he had purchased Saturn he would have been outsourcing the manufacturing and design work to a company like Nissan and slapping the Saturn name plate on it. Instead of doing that, he is just expanding the smart line up in the states. I keep saying He, but im sure Jill has quite a hand in this as well since she was part of those negotiations for Saturn as well.

I don't see this as being all that different than any other car maker who makes different models for different world markets. In fact this will be a redesign of a Nissan that is already a world car, just not available in the US.

Anyway you look at this, At least smart USA is not just sitting around waiting for something new to sell to salvage sales in the states. It also shows Penske is willing to invest a considerable amount of money to keep the brand alive in the US. And That is good news for those of us who Love the fortwo

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