Special Report Regarding Smart Fortwo's Progression to the United States.
Belleair, FL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/26/2007 --Americans want a clever vehicle, specifically the new Smart Fortwo. Our readers and clients interest in this small, cost-effective vehicle continues to grow, and rumors about the car and its progress to the U.S. run rampant. Many of these rumors can be attributed to the process of taking this car from prototype to a polished, market-ready vehicle in the glare of media publicity. The process of perfecting the design has made each step in its refinement seem to be a setback, but each step has inched the car toward the American marketplace.
Captain Davis Vandivier, spokesman for CarSalesBuyOwner.com believes "there's been way too much upheaval and misinformation concerning such an intelligent and gifted car."
"In the late 1980s, Swatch Company and others maintained think tanks in the U.S. pertaining to a micro compact car (MCC) and what role, if any, this type of car could play in the U.S., years before building the first Smart car," Vandivier said.
The smart brand is a wholly owned subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler AG and was founded in 1994. The car, manufactured in Hambach, France, was first scheduled to go on sale in Europe in April 1997. However, John Schmid of the International Herald Tribune reported that "Daimler-Benz AG again suspended Thursday the sale to the public of a compact car that flipped over in test drives."
Swatch watch boss, Nicolas Hayek then vice chairman of the micro compact car joint venture between Daimler and Swatch, said, "In-house test drivers already have managed to tip over several Smart cars during extreme driving tests."
J. Schrempp, the one-time DaimlerChrysler chief executive, then announced a six-month delay to, he said "give engineers time to widen the car's wheel base, shift the vehicle's weight closer to the ground, and retool the production line."
In October 1998, the first Smart city coupe went on sale in Europe. Shortly after that, the car made its American debut as the Official Timekeeper for the Goodwill Games in New York, NY, but still it did not hit the North American marketplace.
S. L. Johnston, president of Smart Cars of America, says, "We were the first independent group in North America intending to import and market the car on a small scale, and we understand some of the complications. We entered into tentative agreements with two German companies in 2000. We assumed we could get the required modifications and compliance issues completed and have the cars on the highways in a timely fashion. We contacted all government agencies, automotive consultants, attorneys, vehicle manufacturer's, bankers, investment groups, RIs and ICIs, some candid, others not. We finally discovered much to our disappointment that getting approval was too great a challenge for our organization, but we never gave up on the Smart car concept, or its enthusiasts."
"When we began thinking Smart, the average price of gasoline was $1.68 a gallon so we have seen and heard it all. However, even then we had grave concerns regarding the future cost of fuel, our reliance on foreign oil, and our fragile and dubious environment." "We are optimistic we can assist those who fulfilled our dream and anticipate delegating our grassroots familiarity, smart resources and experience, for now and for the future of this clever car and other intelligent modes of transportation." Johnston added.
Rumors again flourished that a small number of cars would be available for the American market in 2002. Smart Cars of America recognized this not to be the case and continue to keep North America informed.
On November 7, 2002, Smart brand stated "the Smart could sell well in urban markets in California, Florida, and the East Coast." However, once again, plans to bring the car to the United States were postponed.
In 2002, semi-certified glider Smarts were imported to the United States by eMotion Mobility, a company established by Donald Panoz, with DaimlerChrysler's and the state of Georgia's approval and assistance. The intention was to build an electric version of the car. Atlanta-based eMotion Mobility introduced its prototype all-electric Smart in 2002.
The company planned to import 2,500 Smart car glider models, but in January 2004, eMotion Mobility ceased operations and liens were placed on the cars, which we helped sell for the shipper, again disappointing the consumer.
(As part of a pilot project started in November 2006, the Smart was available in very limited numbers (100) with electric power.)
However, sources from Mercedes-Benz smartUSA division said there was "a good chance the Smart could migrate to America by 2004."
"With no information available for North America Smart car fan, we wrote the first EBook on the smart city-coupe, as it was called then and in 2003, Smart Cars of America was so confident the Smart was going to be sold in the United States by someone and very soon, we started the Smart Car Waiting List" says Max Fisher, spokesman for Smart Cars of America.
The Smart Fortwo (cdi) common rail turbo-diesel version went on sale in Canada in the fall of 2004; the 800 Smarts imported to Canada were sold as soon as they hit Halifax and in many cases demand is greater than supplies.
Early in 2004, rumor had it that an SUV called the Smart ForMore would be introduced to the United States in 2006, by smartUSA, which was still a division of Mercedes-Benz. They began courting dealers to sell the Smart in the United States. "Many thousands of our readers asked us why another SUV, and told us, I want a Smart car and we agreed." said Fisher.
At the same time, some independent "gray market groups" made outlandish statements about DOT, EPA, and other approvals and that the cars would be for sale soon, quoting reasonable prices, providing countless availability dates and new gossip. "This started a series of muddled and incorrect assertions that even now cause uncertainty," says Max Fisher.
Several times, the Smart car has approached the American market, only to withdraw. Smart had a booth at the 2005 Detroit auto show, with all indications pointing to the car's imminent arrival in the states.
A Smart was donated to Firehouse Number 1 in Detroit, with Fire Commissioner Tyrone Scott extolling its virtues: "We are going to save lives with this vehicle because its size will allow us a better first-response capability in areas of the city." This made us more confident about the cars future. However, right after this, plans to bring the Smart brand to the United States were shelved.
In July 2005, DaimlerChrysler announced a $1.44 billion restructuring of Smart that led to numerous job cuts, and a final decision as to whether the Smart would come to America or go the way of the Eagle and Edsel was expected in April 2006. Smart, much like Marc Rich got its last minute pardon.
On June 28th 2006, the American public learned that UAG would be the official U.S. distributor and the Smart car was coming state side.
Max Fisher says, "We are delighted we (America) ultimately will have a sanctioned distributor and an authorized dealer network." He adds "For seven years we have been the smart community's voice and rest assured we will never abandon their confidence or trust and always call it like we see it."
The road to the Smart's U.S. launch has been bumpy, with many roadblocks and hurdles to overcome. The highway is expected to smooth out in the coming months, and the American driving public can hope to hold the checkered flag in the race for this clever car.
About Smart Car of America
SmartCarofAmerica.com has been dedicated to providing no-nonsense and bona fide information concerning the Smart Fortwo and other intelligent forms of transportation for seven years. Smart Cars of America is the nation's leading source for all things Smart on the information superhighway. Smart Cars of America is a privately held company headquartered in Belleair, Florida.