Asians Get Smart. Or Not.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
asians get smart or not

Business Week reports that newly divorced Daimler's got the hots for the Asian market. On the eve of sending the FourTwo on its America adventure (via United Auto), Mercedes' CEO Rainer Schmueckle says he's contemplating selling the self-same ciwn faux Smart, but the vehicle faces the same "THAT'S not a Mercedes" headwind that's bedeviledty car in China and its nearby neighbors. Although the move is not exactly unanticipated (where else would you sell such a titchy car?), it's hardly a slam-dunk. Not only does China have its o the entire brand since birth– to the tune of billions of dollars in losses. Anyway, Schmeuckle is deeply impressed by the possibilities provided by Chinese Smarts: "We have a profound production base there now, primarily for the domestic market," he said. "It can't be ruled out that we might export from there to other Asian markets at some point." Now that's what we call confidence!

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  • Starlightmica Starlightmica on Sep 12, 2007

    Who needs a lawsuit when you have YouTube? Mercedes ought to covertly fund a filmed NCAP test of the Smart knockoff. The Russian auto magazine that recently did the Chery Amulet test or the Chery QQ (Daewoo Matiz knockoff) would probably be more than happy to do that for them.

  • Dean Dean on Sep 12, 2007

    Unfortunately most people seeing the video would probably think it was a Smart car they were watching, and the entire exercise would backfire. There are enough small car haters in the US, and it would only take a few to mis-label the video to fool the masses. That's the problem with viral video -- you can put it out there but once it is in the public domain you can't control what happens to it. I think it is a great technique for brand awareness, but an incredibly lousy way to present real information. And I don't understand the "That's not a Mercedes" headwind. I get that it's there, but I don't get why. Smart does not advertise or promote any connection to Mercedes, and if you'd never heard of a connection you would not find it on their website (certainly not the Canadian site, anyway). It seems to be a bit of a media-driven phenomenon, as it always seems to come up in reviews. And that's the rub. People interested in buying a Smart check out the review, find out that it is a product of a Merc/Swatch JV and the headwind is born.