The first thing I have to say is... "Wow"..!
I know most of you and have had the pleasure to shake most of your hands as you took your new smart fortwo out of our store's double doors for the first time, and I know how many of you were in tune with the goings-on of smart even before the first of the 451's landed in 2008. And, now, we are still a brand in our infancy; being here on American soil for only a bit over 2 years. Everyone of you that can say today that, "I'm a smart owner.", should be very proud. You will forever be the pioneers of smart in the USA and in Wisconsin.
This note is just a THANK YOU, to tell you all that you're all handling that responsibility better than anyone could even imagine.
I took a few moments to surf around on the smart USA insider this morning and I can't even say how proud and impressed I am at how much belief, involvement, and advocacy you have all spread, through these forums and out in the general public. Throughout the year, I regularly hear most of your names from new Guests to our store that say things like, "I was talking to [INSERT NAME] at the [INSERT PLACE], and they told me all about it! AND...they let me sit in it!". You are easily the most cohesive, loyal, and helpful vehicle owners I have seen in my history in this business. And, you are the real voice of the brand. What the public hears from you resonates much more deeply than anything anyone could say, exhibit, print-out, cite, or prove at the dealership. You continue to be the marketing plan, the sales force, and the reason the brand continues pushing forward to change the outlook of American drivers for the better. The imitators and the competitors are already coming, but you will always be the trailblazers for the first volume-distributed microcar in the U.S.
As a brand, we've always moved forward with the understanding that, "smart is not for everyone.", and it remains true. And this doesn't reference just the cargo or family-hauling needs of its potential new buyer. Appreciation for smart requires a rare and refreshing type of quality in a person. Not just an open-mindedness, but a deeper, bigger view of what's in front of you, despite what the majority of others may think. It's analagous to choosing the runt in a litter because it's cute and less-favored, believing in it, and then enjoying that inner "I told you so" when you see that the "big dogs" out there are beginning to notice that your runt can keep up with all of them, and quietly outperform them in all of the most important ways.
I guess they're right: It's not for everyone... and that's kind of cool.
That being said, there are still so, so many folks with that same mindset out there that have not even had their chance to be exposed to smart. (Aren't you amazed sometimes at how many people still come up to you and ask, "What is that?!")
Now, we are touring the country to continue to spread the intelligence, open more minds, and dispel alot of the misconceptions of smart by letting people learn about it and drive it for themselves. On Memorial Day Weekend, May 28th - May 31st, this year, we are bringing the smart USA Test Drive Road Show to Madison for Bratfest. For many of you that have been here since our smart tower was only a pile of dirt and a Hummer test track, the smart Road Show was your first chance to see and drive smart for yourself, and it's where the passion for the brand began.
Bratfest, as an institution, has impressed me in so many surprising ways. What could be prematurely dismissed by name alone as a gluttonous get-together is actually a family-friendly, music filled, VERY well-attended event that personifies Madison and acts as one of it's major events for the city each summer.
Where the Test Drive Road Show is not bringing any new cars or drive systems for us to see, it IS bringing something that is radically new, visionary, and indescribably exciting for tens of 1000's of people that "get it" and are finally getting their chance to see why you're smiling when you pass them on the road. I invite you all to attend and enjoy the festivities of this enormous festival this Memorial Day Weekend, and to continue doing what you're doing to change the direction of this country's outlook on what they need and want in a car, versus what everyone has convinced them they should need.
Thank you, sincerely, for being a member of the smart family!