Smart Concedes Defeat, Starts Captive Lease Program
Smart’s new President, former Saturn overseer/undertaker Jill Lajdziak, knows how the dying brand thing works. With Smart sales down a (barely) Chrysler-beating 41 percent on the year, the Penske-owned Smart USA is teaming up with Daimler Financial Services (Smart vehicles are produced by Daimler in Europe) for a good-old captive lease deal right out the old GM playbook. According to Automotive News [sub], Smart is offering
a 36-month lease for $169 a month, $999 down, a $595 acquisition fee and the first month’s payment due at the time of the lease.
That’s a lot more realistic than the the old deal they were offering ($3k down, $200/month) but we’re still talking about a 10k miles-per-year lease. On a car makes a Yaris seem luxurious, overpowered and confidence-inspiring. Incidentally, were you aware that the Smart ForTwo was first introduced way back in 1998? The more you know!
Considering the Smart is more of a small city, reasonable commute kind of car - I think the 10k per year would be fine for >50% of the people.
Make it sub $10k msrp and either hybrid or diesel (so the mpg's come out a LOT higher) and I'm in. I think I could even live without a stick option at that price, but until then at LEAST give me the option of a 5 speed stick so I can wring it out when I need to.. My commute is 45 miles into chicago with a half circle on ramp + yield sign that goes right into an existing traffic lane. When I need to go, I need to _GO_. Even driving my wife's car (0-60 in 11 seconds) makes me nervous as it does not have the handling (to go around the ramp at an almost-highway speed) or the acceleration (to shoot off the ramp into traffic) at a reasonable speed. As a city car, it fails as well -- the main roads around me are 40 mph officially put people typically drive 50+....(Then again, maybe it isn't built for my city of 30k people...?) With all that said, I absolutely LOVE the looks & size of the car! If they did something to let me push it and gave it a little more power &/or gas mileage, it would be perfect for my wife & I (no kids).
In Canada, the Smart was diesel until they started selling them in the US. Then Canadians had to buy the gasoline powered ones. For the purposes of what the Smart was made for, the people I know that bought Smarts prefer the diesel and those that were considering getting a Smart passed and bought something else.
The only advantage that the gas powered Smart sold in the in the US has is parking in high density urban areas. In the US that pretty much limits it to Boston, Manhattan, Northwest DC and few high density neighborhoods in Chicago and San Fransisco. You can match its fuel costs and price with a low rent Versa, Yaris, Elantra or if you want to step up, a Honda Civic. These cars give you similar mileage, room for four and a trunk. A Smart is just another car that people with money buy to show their moral superiority. The Smart car is a car for people with little common sense.