Smart Fortwo?

Stein X Leikanger
by Stein X Leikanger

As TTAC's Best and Brightest know, Smart's proud parents, the German geniuses who adopted, abused and then disowned Chrysler, long resisted the calls to bring the Smart stateside. And then, eventually, did. In the first six months, 11,400 Smart fortwo have found new closets homes. If you're an aspiring American smarty pants, you'll have to wait a year; some 30k prospective buyers are holding their [70] horses. And while used full-sized SUVs are worth less than a plate of cocoa and lefse, you can sell your Smart fortwo with a nice profit. Elizabeth Szewczyk tells the Washington Post she gave up her Jeep Wrangler for a Smart car and never (couldn't?) look back. Szewczky (pronounced “Schwwwing”) remembers “watching the fuel gauge drop as she drove down the highway and realizing it was time to trade in her childhood dream." [ED: Safe driving or what?] And anyway the Smart gets her a lot more attention than the Wrangler did. Is that point? We report, you deride.

Stein X Leikanger
Stein X Leikanger

Brand strategist and conceptualizer. Working with communicating premium brands for manufacturers around the world.

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Jul 21, 2008
    Since you can buy a Smart fortwo now, and immediately turn around and sell it with a profit, I would say that you’re failing to account for the emotional equity portion of the equation. I'm actually looking at this from the perspective of it's being available for several years (I'm Canadian) in our market. I agree that there's an emotional factor, but after watching the Smart sell for a few years, I'm certain it's not enough. Its Canadian sales haven't been great since it's first year, and it really hasn't gotten the mass-market acceptance it needs to be really viable--and the new model has actually made matters worse! A good counterexample would be, say, the Mini or PT Cruiser. Both (again, in Canada) sell fairly well, even after the emotional appeal has died down because you can make a justification for them on a practical level: the Mini is a nice car with a modicum of practicality; the PT is a very practical car at a reasonable price. The Smart? Not practical, not economical and--importantly--not selling. And this is Canada, where small cars do comparatively well (Acura's best-seller here is the CSX, which the US doesn't even get). In the US, Daimler will be lucky to get a year or two of decent sales, less if the Aygo, iQ or similar get brought over. In Europe, this car sells reasonbly well because it's priced and optioned sensibly. In North America, under Mercedes, it doesn't work.
  • PJungnitsch PJungnitsch on Jul 21, 2008

    Not sure where you are getting all this from. Fortwo sales in Canada followed gas prices closely, and had their greatest sales month in May 2007, after the car had been for sale here for 2 1/2 years. Sales to date of the new model (Jan to June 2008) are 20% higher than that of the previous diesel version (Jan to June 2007). They are selling close to Mini levels (2351 Mini vs 1964 Fortwo so far in 2008) and this year greatly outsell the PT. Note that the initial sales projections by Mercedes for Canada were 800 per year.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Jul 21, 2008
    And anyway the Smart gets her a lot more attention than the Wrangler did. Is that point? Without reading all of the other comments, yes, yes that is the point. By the way I saw my first Smart Fortwo a couple of weeks ago heading east on I80 out of Sacramento up to Tahoe.
  • Fmaxwell Fmaxwell on Oct 29, 2008
    It’s not that we collectively hate this car, it’s that it’s just not a good value, no matter how you slice it: * The fuel economy isn’t that good. Were Toyota to offer a sub-1.5L and/or CDI Yaris, this car would lose it’s one advantage. * The feature content isn’t there. I’ll pay the premium for a B200 or Mini (or a leather+nav+ESC+eighteen airbags Fit or Yaris) because, well, they’re worth it because they’re well-equipped small cars. The Smart is small, but isn’t well-equipped. It’s got no more kit than the Fit does, and costs more to boot. * It is slow and small. Again, were the price and economy problems above not an issue, this would be palatable. I bought one because it's a great value. I've driven the Fit, the Yaris, the Corolla, etc. They are boring. You can talk all day about how many seats they have, how much power they have, etc., but they are still boring. If a car does not make me smile, then it's not a good value for me. I think that you're ignoring what the smart fortwo does have, though. I bought a cabriolet and it has: 1. More front seat room for a driver and passenger. If I'm the only one in the car commuting to work, knowing that the Fit/Yaris has a back seat doesn't make up for it having a smaller front seat. 2. Tridium safety cell -- like a roll cage. 3. ESC 4. ABS 5. Heated seats 6. Power windows, door locks, mirrors, brakes, and steering. 7. A power convertible top that can be put up or down at any speed (I can attest to it working at 80mph). 8. AM/FM/CD changer with MP3 capability, door speakers, in-dash tweeters, and under-seat subwoofer -- from the factory. 9. Body panels that are plastic, don't get door dings, don't rust, and can be replaced as a set in a couple of hours to completely change the color of the car. 10. Better fuel economy than the Yaris or Fit. I commute in it and I drive fast. I usually get about 40mpg commuting. 11. It's a cool car. You can tick off lists of features, specifications, recommendations from Consumer Reports, and measurements, but that just won't turn a Yaris or Fit into something cool that cause people to smile and give you a thumbs-up when you drive by. How much is a convertible Fit? Yaris? Oh, that't right -- they don't make one. Which, as far as I'm concerned, means that they suck. Period. It means that they were not a good value, because I wanted a small convertible.