For the very first time on US soil: the new smart fortwo, celebrating its USA premiere at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit (January 7 to 21, 2007). The new smart fortwo will be available in the USA beginning in the first quarter of 2008. The car shown in Detroit is an European version of the new smart fortwo. Model lines to be available in the United States will be announced at later date.
smart, like Mercedes-Benz and Maybach, is part of the Mercedes Car Group. The exhibition stand is directly opposite Chrysler and Dodge in Oakland Hall (inside Cobo Center). Written in large letters on the stand are the words "Coming to the USA in 2008". And right in front of it, a smart fortwo with red bodypanels and a silver tridion safety cell.
The new smart fortwo can do everything that the current model can do - but better. This means that the new smart fortwo is even more comfortable, even more agile, even safer and even more environmentally friendly than its predecessor. And from the first draft it is designed to meet USA customer needs and registration standards.
The right car at the right time
It is time for the smart fortwo to make an appearance in the USA; fuel prices are rising again, and city traffic is increasing by the day. In short, the smart fortwo is the right car at the right time.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the two-seater quickly became a popular vehicle following its launch in October 1998. The same is sure to hold true in the USA.
More than 770,000 customers have chosen the first generation of the smart fortwo – often to replace a larger car with the lively two-seater. Because the smart fortwo is something special and stands out from the crowd, and because it is simply fun to drive.
Apart from this, the vehicle concept is also highly practical – especially for people who live in cities or urban areas. On most journeys a car carries just a single occupant, and because people make faster progress through the city in a smart fortwo. And because with a smart fortwo, people can make faster progress through city streets and they do not even need to search for a parking space – the smart fortwo can easily fit between in very limited space – they can find one right away.
The right distribution partner
With Roger Penske and UnitedAuto Group, smart has the right distribution partner to bring the smart fortwo to the US market in 2008. Currently smart USA is in the process of identifying dealer selection criteria which may include the following requirements:
Dealers must show a passion for the smart brand. They must be willing to commit to new, unique and non-traditional dealership processes/procedures. And they must exhibit high levels of customer service and satisfaction.
smart USA is currently reviewing market data to determine dealership locations – no specific locations have been identified to date. Dealer organizations will be announced during the second half of 2007. Dealers will include a selection of UnitedAuto Group, DaimlerChrysler, and non-affiliated dealers.
UnitedAuto Group, Inc., headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, operates 319 dealers with 41 different brands and 27 repair workshops. UAG specializes in the sale of new and pre-owned cars, financing, insurance and supplying spare parts and also offers a maintenance and repair service for all the brands it offers.
The story of a unique vehicle concept
At the beginning of the 1990s, research showed that each car journey carried an average of only 1.2 people. Anyone stuck at traffic lights in rush-hour traffic observing neighboring cars will readily confirm this.
And that’s not all. In cities, cars are driven for fewer than 18 miles per day. 90 percent of the time, a car is parked somewhere. Additionally, half the driving time in urban areas is actually spent circling around looking for this parking spot.
This is why there was a clear need for a car designed specifically for use in urban areas. A car that uses far less road space, and is therefore less than ten feet long.
Joint Venture with Swatch
In 1972 Mercedes-Benz developed the concept of a super-compact automobile with a length of two and a half meters. However, at this time technical implementation was still not possible because of the strict safety standards of Mercedes-Benz.
In 1989 Nicolas G. Hayek, the inventor of the Swatch clock, announced that he wants to bring a small city car on the market. For the fast and successful conversion Hayek goes on the search for an experienced partner.
The joint venture founded in 1994 united the creative strength of Swatch with the hundred-year experience in automotive engineering of Mercedes Benz. The co-operation led to a unique vehicle concept and to a new automotive brand: smart.
Three years after vehicle development work began in 1994, the smart fortwo made its world debut at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in 1997. Production began in July 1998 in a new plant in Hambach, France.
The following October saw the new car being sold for the first time in nine European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland). In the same year, smart became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler-Benz AG (now DaimlerChrysler AG). In the meantime, the smart fortwo is available in 36 countries. The USA will represent the 37th country to sell the smart fortwo.
As early as 2002, the smart fortwo was included in the permanent collection in New York’s Museum of Modern Art – the only vehicle there that is still produced today. The five other models to attain this honor were the Cisitalia, Jaguar E-Type, Willy’s Jeep, Ferrari Formula 1 and Volkswagen Beetle.