According to the brand’s chief, US dealers aren’t likely to get the new Smart ForFour four-seat car that goes on sale in Europe this year.
Smart boss Annette Winkler said that although executives said a decision hasn’t been made, the car has not been homologated for the United States. Smart isn’t sure there is a big enough market in the United States for the ForFour to warrant the cost of homologation, she added.
Smart sales fell 7 % in the US market to 9,264 last year. Winkler said the redesigned ForTwo, which is wider and roomier than the current model, may be enough to increase US sales.
“There are other regulations to comply with, and to achieve what is needed here costs extra money,” she said at the Detroit auto show last week.
Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, says Smart is more of a 10,000 unit niche player than a volume brand. Its fuel economy will help Mercedes-Benz meet tougher future corporate average fuel economy regulations, he said.
The microcar segment in the United States shrunk while the entire market grew last year, he said. Even if the company decided to sell the ForFour in the United States, the bump in annual volume wouldn’t be that significant, perhaps increasing from 10,000 units to 20,000 units a year. So why even keep Smart? Cannon says first of all, he’d have to pay the 92 Mercedes-Benz dealers who sell Smart if the network was shut down.
Via Automotive News Europe
by Aurel Niculescu
) - Monday, January 20th, 2014 - filed under Industry
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