I've been hearing a lot about dealerships closing all across the USA, and I have to say I'm quite concerned. Sales are WAY down, to the point where dealers can't cover their overhead.

Why hasn't Smart USA launched an advertising campaign? Don't they realize that the general American consumer expects to get a great deal of their consumer information from commercials? Especially when it comes to cars? One of the reasons that Honda, Chevy, Ford, Mercedes, BMW and Hyundai are successful is due to their aggressive advertising on TV and radio. Watch a sporting event on television and you're inundated with car ads at every commercial break.

I had to call my insurance company for a claim recently and the customer service representative had to Google "Smart Car" while we were on the phone because she didn't know what it was! And she works for a major auto insurance company!!

I think Smart USA has seriously dropped the ball and have sabotaged their own success in the USA. It would be very disappointing for myself and all the other Smart owners out there if the brand went defunct in the USA and we found our extended warranties are no longer worth anything.

Thoughts?

Tags: advertising, closures, dealerships

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There is only one dealer in Denver, and although it's only a Smart dealer, it's owned by a conglomerate, that is to say it's owned by a company with multiple dealerships...

jwight said:

Monthly sales numbers here: http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f65/latest-monthly-total-us...

Should have the Jan 2010 numbers in the next few days.

Keith got his smart said:
I'm not really surprised that sales are down. After the initial "rush" from folks who had been wating a long time for the smart to come to the US I think a slowdown in sales was inevitable. Add in the economic downturn in general and there was bound to be a significant hit. Are there any figures on how far sales have fallen off?

My concern in all of this would be service support. My smart dealer in the Cleveland area shares the service facility with a Mercedes dealer. Is this the case everywhere? Even if my smart dealer goes under there will hopefully still be trained service techs to do smart maintenance.
could not agree more... I love my car and others would love it as well if the myths could only be dispelled.. I know its not a car for everyone, but until you know what it is you cant know its for you..

Julie O'Malley said:
It's going to take a lot more than rising fuel costs to bring Smarts into public awareness... My insurance company customer service rep didn't know what a Smart Car was and she works for Allstate, for heaven's sake. People still come up to me at gas stations and grocery store parking lots and ask me what it is, and I live in LOS ANGELES.

For two years I bugged Dave Schembri (we're friends) to let me narrate the ad campaign. I'm a voiceover artist and I told him I would do it for scale for the first year of the campaign, just to get the word out and help launch it. They should be running commercials during baseball games on TV, the Superbowl and during American Idol. Not everyone in this country likes, wants, or needs an SUV. But if they don't KNOW about the Smart Car, they're not going to show up at the dealerships.

One guy at a gas station was under the impression that they cost somewhere around $40,000 to buy. I was stunned. There is so much mis-information floating around out there and the only people that can set the consumer public straight is SMART.
It is really for us as owners to spread the word.  Smart works on a very low budget and is there really a way to convey to others just how the car is without them driving one?  So many people form an opinion without ever getting near the car.  A true case of looks can be deceiving.  As for falling sales, the public is being misled.  Think about it.  Smart started taking orders for cars in 2006, and took orders through all of 2007.  When the cars started to come in during 2008 the cars were really being delivered as opposed to sold.  This went on through 2008 and a lot of 2009.  They really delivered 3 years worth of sales in 2008 and the begining of 2009.  Since then, sales have been steady.  That is the key.  Some dealers that only sell smart cars can not make a living and must close.  The smart dealerships that are linked to others dealerships that sell other cars can survive for a lot longer.  Most of us really love the cars.  Let us get the word out so more people will understand
I'm also concerned about the future of smartUSA.   My two year warranty expired in April 2010 . I purchased an extended warranty but so far it hasn't covered any of the repairs or maintenance I've had.

My experience has been the same as Columbus' regarding the expensive extended warranty.  

 

Also, I am amazed that, as I've been driving through the midwest and now southward toward the Gulf, how many people don't know anything about the Smart car, have never even seen a picture of it, and certainly never heard of it.  Scary, after being in the U.S. since 2008.  Some people simply stop cold in their tracks in the middle of the street, as if they've just seen a Martian.  

 

 

 

 

Were you able to buy the service contract after your initial delivery, and what repairs were not covered?  Thanks!

columbus said:
I'm also concerned about the future of smartUSA.   My two year warranty expired in April 2010 . I purchased an extended warranty but so far it hasn't covered any of the repairs or maintenance I've had.

I purchased the extended warranty just prior to the expiration of my original 2-year warranty.  I was contacted by the dealer from whom I'd purchased the car (Houston  North) and -- as I remember it -- was told I could not buy the extended warranty after my original warranty expired in September 2010.  I purchased it through them (even though I thought it was overpriced and normally never purchase extended warranties).  I can't remember whether or not I could have purchased it from anyone else.

 

I've been wandering the country and so must deal with a different Smart Center every time I need one and must have them talk to each other if there's something to deal with relating to the last service.  That has worked okay as long as the original warranty was involved.  Generally speaking, most of the Smart Centers have been very pleasant and come across as caring to please me.  

 

The extended warranty thing that comes immediately to mind is when my moon roof came loose and was dangerous to drive (this was not the fault of original manufacture...long story).  I needed to rent a car while the roof was replaced.  Since car rentals are covered, I called the warranty company and they said this instance was not covered because it was not considered dangerous [to drive a car with the roof in danger of flying off]!  I now believe the reasons for car rentals are carefully specified and anything else isn't covered.  I expect the same will be the case with everything else.

 

 

Add Bloomington Smart (MN) to the closed list.  A new dealership has opened in Golden Valley, MN in a building that used to be a Saturn dealership.  But it is not fully operational yet as they cannot order new models.  Along with advertising, maybe allowing for dealership that can offer other makes would get more exposure for the smart car too.

Julie, 

 

We received an email on May 12th that Denver's only dealership was closing on May 14th.   It took almost two weeks before we finally heard that a local Mercedes dealership would be taking over.  I know one Smart owner who had an excellent experience there... he said the dealership seemed genuinely excited to be carrying the Smart now.

It was all handled very poorly...   really horrible from a PR standpoint. 

 

Julie O'Malley said:

As of May 21, 2010, MY Smart dealership (Smart Universal City in Los Angeles) closed the doors.

Beth,

We still have as yet not heard about MB Westminster servicing our car, so not ALL Smart owners have even been notified yet, very poor indeed!

I just received an email saying Smart Center of Round Rock, TX is closing tomorrow.  Thankfully the Mercedes Benz dealer in Georgetown, TX will become the new dealer, so those in the Austin area aren't being left high and dry.

my smart dealership closed mid May and now i take my smart to the Cadillac Behemoth Dealer across the street.

love my car, hate the way this has been handled... my smart tech is at the new dealership  a couple days of the week so i have to coordinate before taking it in for service, etc. whereas before i would drop by and even chat/talk shop with the guys.

poo on Mr Penske and his shortsightedness on all things smart!

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