I imagine that this largely has to do with the need for Daimler Benz to include smart gas mileage into their fleet average to meet more stringent average fuel consumption laws? I would guess that the current smartcenters will remain, as they (hopefully) have a good franchise agreement that will require transition.
The press release talks about transferring distribution which doesn't mean there can't be independent smart dealers, they just need to be Daimler Benz sanctioned (which they probably are now, since all the branding matches). I also think that it would be tough for Daimler to train all new staff for new dealerships. I would think they would maintain their current dealers, but the integration could offer additional dealerships, which would only be good for us (the consumer) and especially areas where there are no current dealerships, as integration with existing Mercedes Dealers opens up a larger network.
We will just have to see. (One hope I would have is that we get new senior management at the Federal Level that will terminate the ill-fated Nissan re-badge. I don't know what (if any) plans Daimler might have for smart model range expansion. It certainly couldn't be positioned to compete with their (anticipated) smaller Mercedes Models (which may or may not come to the US in the next couple of years). Fleet MPG reduction is key. The smart brand would allow Daimler to achieve that without "watering down" the luxury appeal of the Mercedes brand.
In either case I am still extremely thankful to Mr. Penske for introducing the brand to the US and allowing us to own our fun little cars.
What do you guys think?
IMO, I believe Jill was brought on board to help dismantle smart USA. At GM she played a major role in the elimination of the Saturn.
It was dirty trick on us present owners for Jill to pretend to be giving us owners, and the brand, support while stalling for time and spending as little as possible on advertising.
We were amazed that Smart just stood by and offered no defense to all to the false press attacks on our little car, As a result our resale values plunged... Thanks Jill. A2Jack