It’s Official: The Smart is Coming to the US

Automotive News is reporting that DaimlerChrysler’s Smart fortwo will make its US debut in 2008 and will be sold by Roger Penske at select dealerships. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

DaimlerChrysler expects to sell 20,000 Smart fortwo models annually in the United States, with an emphasis on urban markets on the West and East coasts. Smart’s U.S. sales target is about half that of BMW’s Mini brand.

[ Penske will sell Smarts in U.S. ] Automotive News (subscription required)
  • It’s funny – we’ve had the Smart fourtwo in Canada for at least a year. I guess they were testing it out in the smaller canadian market first.

    The bad news is that the demand was much larger than the supply, surpassing even the Mini-gap. You could actually sell a Smart for more than you paid for it, since there was a 6-month minimum waiting period to order one through the dealer.

    J…

  • alpinamike

    Canada ahe”

    I will be going there very soon and hope to see some smarts, they have been their for some time now! The ones i saw were used as promo tool for local radio stations in toronto. And saw a convertible but not the one with “no front windsheild” like in england.

  • Jack07734

    It’s about friggin time.

    Cheers, Jack

  • eto

    This video would make me worry about driving a Smart on US roads:

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/145085/smart_crash/

    There are just way too many vehicles on the road here that way 4x as much as a Smart.

  • How is that necessarily bad? The Smart took the impact and dissipated the energy. As long as you’re belted into you’d be fine.

  • eto

    As long as the airbags absorb the G-force of the sudden stop and subsequent movement backwards, the Smart’s built in roll cage will protect the passengers pretty well, but that collision would be scary for the Smart passengers. It wouldn’t be fun to spin like a top in a collision… or would it be. As long as I’d come out OK, I’d ride shotgun in that collision. 😀

  • kelly

    is swatch still involved or did DC buy out their share?

    There are just way too many vehicles on the road here that way 4x as much as a Smart.

    i know giant suv’s are much safer, they never roll over or anything. plus why are you at a mini site talking about size = safety?

  • I’ve seen quite a few Yaris and Fits around Chicagoland lately. Smart may have a small, small chance… but I’m guessing it’ll take a lot of clever marketing to persuade people away from a Toyota, Honda or the soon to be released Nissan Versa.

  • eto
    i know giant suv’s are much safer, they never roll over or anything. plus why are you at a mini site talking about size = safety?

    Not saying size=safety. I know the Smart was designed with the understanding that it will be in collisions with vehicles much larger than it. I just think the Smart may be crossing a fine line of what may be too small for US roads considering the mass of Urban Assault Vehicles.

    Vehicles such as the MINI, Fit, Yaris, Versa, Scion xA/xB weigh between 2200 and 2600 lbs. and have enough mass to prevent bouncing off the opposing vehicle and turning into a Tilt-a-Whirl. While I’m sure the video is intended to demonstrate the Smart’s passenger compartment’s resilience in such a collision, it does alarm me that the smaller vehicle, in this case the Smart, is thrown about so violently.

  • Oh boy, here we go again – “don’t buy a small car because you might get hit by something bigger”. Does that mean the Chevy Suburban owner should go trade in for a Mack truck?

  • Kennedy

    You have to think about the statistics too, if you’re worried about safety. I’m pretty certain most “Smart” owners will use their cars for mostly urban driving, taking a different car out for trips on the highway or on rural country roads, etc. The fact of the matter is that most head-on collisions don’t occur in urban settings, but on 2-lane rural roads/highways, etc. In the city, the biggest fear will be getting rear-ended, but that type of accident will result in a totally different crash scenario.

    There are a lot of factors at play in an accident, but we will never get away from the fact that mass certainly plays an extremely important role. But the mass mostly plays out in the change of momentum of each car in an accident (i.e. which direction/speed you were going before and after the accident). In that regard, the relative severity of a head-on crash for a Smart is going to be very serious, since in almost all cases, it’s going to end up likely being pushed/thrown backwards… but you’re more likely going to be rear-ended and pushed/thrown in the same direction you were already going and generally a lesser severity accident. Certainly, the engineers paid a great deal of attention to keeping the occupant compartment as strong and as safe as humanly possible.

    Having said all that, I think no one is going to buy a Smart that hasn’t already considered whether or not it is safe enough for them. And if they do, good for them. I’m getting tired of the nuclear arms race of buying massive SUVs to keep the family safe.

  • Dwbowers

    I’m sure people will buy a Smart car because it’s a practical car commuting car that would be extremely easy to park almost anywhere. In Europe you see most of the Smart cars in densely populated cities. Americans aren’t use to seeing such small cars and it will take a while for them to get use to them. I’m sure there where people who thought that MINI would never be successful in the US too. I think the Smart car is a great choice if you’re living in the city. It’s much better, nicer, and safer than commuting on a motorcycle!

    I’m interested in getting a Smart. Has anyone read about how reliable they are or how much fun they are to drive?

    My wife was recently in Paris and she said she saw a Smart car on fire and it hadn’t been in an accident. My 7.5 year old was with my wife and he saw the car on fire too so he calls it a “dumb” car!

  • My first reaction was, who would get into something as small as that and drive it on the highway (I’m sure folks say that about the MINI). But, if you really think about it, there are folks riding motorcycles on the highway all the time. Sure they’re wearing helmets (sometimes), but it couldn’t be nearly as bad in a ForTwo.

    I’d love to test drive one.

  • Nathaniel Salzman
    I’d love to test drive one.

    Me too – if for no other reason than to see how something that small handles. I wonder if the other Smart models will hop the pond as well. The Roadster is kind of interesting – super mileage on something that seems to get up and go a little.

  • David

    I know it’s great to have the freedom of choice, so kudos to Penske for having the courage of conviction to bring the smart to the U.S. market. They have been available here in Canada for a while, and while I have not tested one yet, I could never see myself buying one, and this has nothing to do with safety or lack thereof. Simply put, the car is homely, both inside and out. I like the concept, the great fuel economy, would make a good urban car, etc. Having crawled around one at the auto show 2 years ago, I can report that the interior is not a good looking place to spend time in, and the workmanship/finishing seems suspect at best. And everytime I see one on the road (which is quite often as I live in an urban centre of around 1 million folks) I want to like it, but can’t clear the hurdle of the looks. (those cyclops eyes…) Whereas everytime I see a MINI on the road it brings a smile to my face, and I think it would be no different if I was not a Cooper owner. So by all means, check ’em out – if they work for you, great. Seeing as they only have seats for two (hence the name) I would look at a Miata, any Miata, new or used.

  • Tim

    NS and DD:

    I’ve driven one. I own a MCS. There is no comparison. The acceleration is pretty poor (it’s a 800 cc diesel or something) and the handling is pretty poor. Ride quality is decent compared to the harsh ride of my MCS, however.

    Oddly enough, the base model’s automatic transmission is pretty crappy. Shifts on the base model tend to be surprisingly rough. Upgrading to the mid-level model puts paddle shifters on the steering wheel and it makes the shifts much smoother.

    A smart (note the lowercase — wonder where they got that idea…) retails for about 17,000 or so in Canada while a “base” Cooper gos for around 25,000. So, price wise, you get what you pay for. With a smart you get great fuel economy and even less utility than a MINI. In terms of performance, they aren’t in the same league.

    I think the smart is a great urban car. It’d be perfect for my fiancee and I to take to work every day, but I wouldn’t want to travel on any long trips in it.

    My $0.02

  • Bill Lawrence

    The MINI is not only popular because it is small, it also handles well, is an iconic design, has premium features and is somewhat safe and practical. It’s a sports car with benefits.

    It seems like the folks at DCX think that they are going to get away with selling a very small, 2 seat, underpowered car that has somewhat of a reputation for dodgy build quality. Plus, it will cost the same as a MINI Cooper.

    The Smart will be a boutique that will be somewhat of a fad, but not much more than that.

  • badburro

    Tim, I think you’re the type of customer DC/Penske/smart is looking for in a smart car. Someone to use it for short trips around town. The car’s emphasis is not in luxury or utility, but as a basic transportation vehicle to get from point a to point b. If everyone that drives an SUV to work would switch to a smart car or other econo-box, just think of the impact it would have on our dependence on fossil fuels. I, myself, would definitely consider it for a commuting vehicle, over a motorcycle or moped, from a safety and fuel economy standpoint.

  • robble

    They’ve already shown up in Hawaii.

  • Tim

    Badburro, I couldn’t agree with you more. We actually considered it as a second car strictly as a commuter car while we’d save the MINI for haulin’ fridges and loads of manure :).

    The problem with the smart, at least here in Canada, is twofold: one, it is somewhat expensive compared to other subcompact cars in its class. The Toyota Yaris, for example, retails for about 2-3 grand cheaper. I won’t even get into the Hyndai and Kia cars. Second, it uses diesel fuel, which can be somewhat of a problem to find. Admittedly, it’s not that much of a problem in a big city where these cars will primarily be used, but it is an inconvenience.

  • Lisa

    I saw one in Tempe yesterday going close to 70 in the fast lane.

    I own a MCS stick. I commute 20mi in traffic each way, every day. I want a diesel auto Smart. I’m just not willing to trade in my MINI for one.

    I just don’t understand why they are selling for so much. They should be marketing to the daily urban commuters who want a fuel efficient car for the day-to-day driving. This car is an EXTRA car, not a PRIMARY car. It should be priced that way.

  • laverne

    It seems like the folks at DCX think that they are going to get away with selling a very small, 2 seat, underpowered car that has somewhat of a reputation for dodgy build quality.

    I wonder if that is what was said about Sir Alec and his new design?

  • kelly
    I wonder if the other Smart models will hop the pond as well.

    the other models have been EOLed, they want to focus on a single model going forward.

  • Matt

    I’m quite surprised at this news. Smart is doing really badly in Europe and reports suggested that Smart could well go bust. Although I must say that it is the roadster (voted gay car of the year in the UK a few years back by the way- no offense to homosexuals out there – ) and the fourfour which are the real failures at Smart. The fourfour feels cheap and is noisy – maybe the US market can save Smart, but the fourtwo on the whole has been nothing more than a gimmick for company advertisments in Europe. Fun car, but nothing more – unlike the MC/MCS!

  • matt

    My wife and I rented a Smart fortwo on a trip to Italy last year. While it was great at squeezing into impossible parking spots around Florence, the power (or lack thereof) was an issue. Going from a standing start to highway speed took an eternity, but once you got there it wasn’t too bad. We drove the car at speeds topping out at roughly 85 mph (140kph), and it felt solid the entire time. My biggest gripe was the automatic transition took a significant amount of time to change gears (much more than any other car I’ve experienced).

    If the retail price here in the U.S. is really going to be above $15,000, I could not see myself buying one over several other better equipped, more powerful, and less expensive cars that get similar gas mileage. Bottom line, the Smart does for me what a MINI does – it makes me smile, but for different reasons.

  • Just for the record, the Roadster is either going out of production or already is…haven’t a clue who pulled the plug on that one but it is…regretfully.

  • stephen

    i think that SMART has been waiting for an “oil crisis” like this for some time…. i mean the company has not turned a profit since it 1st began in 1998…. there is a supply and demand issue…. OIL… and well i think some people hence OPEC and BUSH are making some false claims to bump up the price…..

    well i know several things….. MB USA has some quality control issues especally on the lower end cars such as the C230… and they have cut back on some of there prime offerings when you buy a MB…. they also do not have a solution such as a MINI for BMW, a Yaris for Toyota… etc… MB is trying to fit that…. hope it works out for them…

    I personally would have a hard time going into anything smaller than a mini….. i still have and will not get rid of my pick up, i haul my boat, and a trailer…. but i have it down now to about a 70 mini/30 truck split…. as for a SMART…. i do not think i it would be practical…. i mean i do not even think you can fit 2 ppl and 2 sets of golf clubs in that thing…… or dealing with the windy season you get in the spring summer here in New mexico…..

    i am also concerned about servicing issues…. i already have a 250 mile drive to my nearest MINI dealer….. how far for a smart?

  • MillieTheMini

    The Canadiandriver.com website did an article on a roadtrip with a Smart Fortwo from Canada into the Us recently: http://www.canadiandriver.com/articles/pb/smartfortworoadtrip.htm

    Here in Vancouver, BC they can be seen all over the place. We Canadians have always been more receptive to small cars, and the Fortwo is no exception.

    Having said that, I did see Fortwo in the used car section of some dealerships 6 months after it was first introduced – probably due to impulse/emotion purchases, where the owner quickly realized that the car would not suit all they needed from a vehicle.

    But for someone with a bigger vehicle, this is the perfect vehicle for quick trips to the supermarket, to work and back, etc if the distances aren’t too great.

    I did test drive one – and it was roomy inside, though being a MINI owner I’m used to getting roominess from small things 🙂 However, the driving experience left me cold. With that in mind, there isn’t much of a difference between a Fortwo and a Ferrari when both are stuck in heavy traffic!! 🙂

  • Here’s a bit more…the Smart FourTwo to be introduced to the US is supposed to be 7″ (!) longer and a bit heavier due to US requirements. There will be some more external (windshield slope for one) and internal changes made to boot. Better bump up those horses with the added weight…

  • nervous

    I’m so excited & can’t see straight. During a recent trip to Paris, I was drooling over these cars. For me it won’t be MINI vs. Smart. Moreover, it will be MINI + Smart. What a perfect way to turn a 2 car garage into a 3 car garage.

  • Smoke07

    My husband and I test drove one here in Arizona. We felt uncomforterable and unsafe in the car.

    Quotes from Matt,”Going from a standing start to highway speed took an eternity & also My biggest gripe was the automatic transition took a significant amount of time to change gears” which we agree also.

    Don’t get me wrong it is a nice car, but for us I feel that almost any other car will be safer than the the SMART CAR. I will be getting a MCS 2007 which I’m very excited about.

  • JD7

    kelly Jun 28th, 2006 Link

    is swatch still involved or did DC buy out their share?

    Swatch left in 1998. Here is a news story.

    INTERNATIONAL BRIEFS; Swatch Group Sells Its Smart Car Stake

    Published: November 5, 1998

    The Swatch Group has sold its 19 percent stake in the Smart car project to the German auto maker Daimler-Benz A.G., its partner in the venture. Neither Daimler nor Swatch provided terms of the deal. A German newspaper, Wirtschaftswoche, put the value at $70 million.

    Swatch said it had sold its stake because the venture had decided against using Swatch’s hybrid motor technology in the tiny, two-seat Smart car.

  • “don’t buy a small car because you might get hit by something bigger”

    You know, with a small car your chances of evading an accident are a lot bigger. But I was doubting myself if I would want to drive a Smart in the USA. With all those giant cars you drive over there I can imagine you feel pretty small and vulnerable. But you get used to that. I drive a classic Mini and at first I was scared of those big trucks on the highway, but by now I know where to drive so they can see me and most important, I feel a lot more comfortable in my car so I have confidence that I know what to do if something should happen. It just a matter of driving carefully, but that’s something you should always do. Whether you drive a Smart, a Mini or a Hummer.

  • Greg W

    Relax Mini owners…its not a Mini. The only thing going for it is the extra two rear doors. Not a threat to Mini at

  • Greg W

    Relax Mini owners…its not a Mini. The only thing going for it is the extra two rear doors. Not a threat to Mini at

  • Ahh the smart… a case of a solution looking for a problem… has MB figured out how to make money on these budget 2-seaters yet?

    Smug Alert “If there were too many of these down here, Bush wouldn’t be able to go to war over oil”

    What a tool…

  • Doug Graham

    Why so long for Smart’s is 2008? You when can buy them already?

    http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=smartcar28&date=20060628&query=smart

    http://www.zapworld.com/cars/smartcar.asp

    http://www.greencarco.com/

    2005 Smart Hardtop Pricing:

    $26,900.00

    Convertible

    $29,900.00

    Might people buy in 2008…

    Hmmm.

  • Bob Thomas

    I am very interested in acqiring a dealership in Atlanta for the smart car. I believe its an idea whose time has come. Please send any info that could help in this acquisition. Thank you…..

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