What’s up with this??? Sales are off 60%. Why doesn’t Penske Automotive Group advertise on TV? My wife and I have traveled in Europe quite a lot over the past 10 years and we’ve seen a lot of TV ads for the smart.


The Year's Worst-Selling Cars
http://autos.yahoo.com/articles/autos_content_landing_pages/1629/th...

Other poor performers include the fuel-sipping Smart ForTwo, which was all the rage in 2008, when gas was $4 a gallon, but has endured a two-year sales collapse. The quirky two-seater from Germany's Daimler AG is down 60% this year, on top of a 41% decline in 2009. Penske Automotive Group, which distributes the vehicle in the U.S., is now testing Car2Go, a car-sharing concept for Smart, and plans to market an electric Smart soon.

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I think the drop in Smart sales over the past 2 years is directly related to two things: 

1) the drop in gasoline prices in the same period.  However, gas is on the upward climb once again and here in Kansas City, premium fuel which Smart cars require has again risen above the $3.00/gallon mark.  According to the news this week, the gasoline price increase is due to the weak dollar as well as the USA exporting more gasoline overseas (can you believe that???).  Most likely, the higher gas costs rise the more attractive our fuel miserly Smart cars will be to car buyers once again and

2) the honeymoon is over.   The Smartfortwo is no longer a novelty for the most part and lots of folks have discovered that it's not a car for everyone.  With its stiff suspension, short wheelbase and European ride, it rides rough on anything less than satin-smooth boulevards and highways.  I don't think that sits well with most Americans who are used to a longer wheelbase and a cushier suspension.

That said, after 3 months of ownership, I continue to love my 2009 Smart Cabriolet for its 38 - 40 mpg economy AND the monster Pioneer multi-function radio the previous owners replaced the factory radio with :-)

"Okay, so onto the news of the day.  Many of you have probably seen the recent stories about smart’s sales decline and concern about the future of the brand.  Well, it’s true that our sales are down from where they were when the brand first launched.  But let’s look back at smart’s first two years and put things into perspective.  In 2008, when the brand launched in the U.S., the sales total of 24k far exceeded the initial forecast of 14K-16K.  The pent up demand and soaring fuel prices at over $4 per gallon all contributed to the brand being able to sustain tremendous momentum even as the rest of the auto industry began to dramatically decline.  So, in 2009, while every other manufacturer was reporting significant year-over-year sales declines, smart did not feel the impact of the economic crisis and industry fall until about this time last year.  smart simply overachieved that first year, and sustained that momentum much longer than others in the industry.  Although some makes are able to broadcast that sales are higher now versus the dismal performance last year, I would have to say that 2010 is still a tough year for everyone.

So, is smart going away?  Far from it.  In fact, we are just getting started in the U.S. market.  We have a refreshed 2011 model coming this fall, an electric smart car headed to the market and plans for future models through an alliance between Daimler and Nissan-Renault. There’s a bright future ahead for this brand.  Is this a brand for everyone?  Probably not.  Then again, we don’t think of our owners as just everyone."

 

http://soundboard.smartusa.com/talk/

 

 

I agree the problem appears to be with the marketing and sales efforts. How can you NOT sell a car that generates so much interest on the street every single day? True enough, it is not a car for everyone, but as long as you are honest about the reality, there are lots of potential smartys out there.

Speaking locally, I have only seen ONE being shown in any type of trade show/event at the convention center here. For the price of a standard 8 X 10 space at these shows, why wouldn't you put them where thousands of average people can touch and sit in them over one or two days? There is some type of event nearly every other week!

 

Oh well, I've got MINE!

The figures you have are accurate, but misleading.  Smart started taking orders for the smart in late 2006 and 2007.  When the cars arrived in 2008 and a lot of 2009 the cars that had been ordered were then delivered.  2010 is the first year where there were no orders waiting to be filled.  The true indicator will be in 2011 as compared to 2010.  What may throw that number off is the introduction of the electric.  But not to get excited.  Those figures are not a true indicator of how things have gone.

no, actually smart started taking orders/reservations on march 17th, 2007. i put in my reservation on march 17th, 2007 at 5am central time. 3 years after taking delivery of the first pure in illinois, i still get tons of compliments and questions about the car. it is a "niche" vehicle, most people are concerned about safety of the smart. i tell them it's safer than what they are driving now. being a daily driver of a smart for 3 years, i've grown accustomed to it's quirkiness.  some times i almost wish for a clutch pedal, and an off switch for the ESP, there is a procedure for that, or pulling fuse #11.

 

i think the main reason why the smart doesn't sell that well is because some people need a vehicle for more than 2 now and then. but it would have to be a "tardis" to fit 4 people into a 73" wheelbase. i felt more claustrophobic in my old MB 190E than in the smart.

 

it's funny, this is the car i've driven most over the same period of time in my life (mileage per year of ownership) and i've been driving for 34 years. i go to places i'd never go to with another car (smart events) and i enjoy being with all my smart "friends" (a very diverse group of people) at various "smart meets".

 

i'm not sure if it's the fault of penske for not advertising, but there is a lot of information available online, penske  also brought us the yugo in the past, a very poor euro-fiat copy. the smart is a mercedes product of much better quality. a cutesy ad now and then somewhere would draw more attention to the car, the dealerships/centers i've seen so far are kind of hidden (lincolnwood, milwaukee and las vegas).

 

i may produce a movie next year about the smart fortwo, based on the video on youtube about the segway scooter "10 mph" (it's a 90 minute sob story of crossing the USA on a segway, if you need sleep, look it up) but i would call my movie "50 mpgs", where i would do the same trip, seattle to boston, in my smart, while averaging over 50 miles per gallon. in warmer environs (75-90F) my smart gets 50-60+ miles per gallon. the EPA rates the fortwo at 33/41mpgs. i have never had a tank below 37mpgs in 3 years, my lowest mpgs was first tank, january 2008, new car, sub freezing temps. but it would be a happy story, no failures, just triumph and fun.

Richard Baker said:

The figures you have are accurate, but misleading.  Smart started taking orders for the smart in late 2006 and 2007.  When the cars arrived in 2008 and a lot of 2009 the cars that had been ordered were then delivered.  2010 is the first year where there were no orders waiting to be filled.  The true indicator will be in 2011 as compared to 2010.  What may throw that number off is the introduction of the electric.  But not to get excited.  Those figures are not a true indicator of how things have gone.

I am almost certain that Malcolm Bricklin imported the Yugo, not Roger Penske.

+1!

George Oller said:

I am almost certain that Malcolm Bricklin imported the Yugo, not Roger Penske.

you're right, it was bricklin. bricklin and penske are a bit eccentric, things start to melt in your mind with old age, LOL. i got my first senior discount member's card last month at the palace station casino last month, where i picked up a part for my smart at the smart center las vegas, down the street from my hotel. i still listen to 50's & 60's music online.

 

i stand corrected, thank you.

George Oller said:

I am almost certain that Malcolm Bricklin imported the Yugo, not Roger Penske.

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