Penske, Nissan Rebadge Out As Mercedes Gets Smart (Back)

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
penske nissan rebadge out as mercedes gets smart back

Automotive News [sub] reports that Mercedes-Benz has agreed to take over Smart car distribution in the United States from Group after about three years of operating as a Penske-run distribution channel. Beginning in July, Mercedes will take over all of Smart’s US-based operations because

1. It needs the small-car volume to meet new corporate average fuel economy standards that take effect in the United States in the 2016 model year.

2. Daimler AG integrated Smart into the Mercedes-Benz car unit September. The United States is the only market where Smart and Mercedes operate separately.

But the impact of this deal isn’t limited to ownership and operations, as AN [sub] reports that the four-door car being developed by Nissan for Smart USA has been canceled.

Says Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb

If Smart continued as a free-standing network, they would need a second model to make it viable. By integrating it into Mercedes-Benz, there is no need.

Talk about a re-boot. Even the brand’s US boss, former Saturn honcho Jill Lajdziak is out, and Mercedes will appoint a new General Manager for the brand. More Mercedes dealers could be brought into the new Smart network, which will be run “similarly” to Mercedes’ Sprinter van brand. And with the cancellation of the Nissan rebadge, a move that reeked of desperation, it seems that Mercedes is back to handling Smart as a long-term investment that could bear fruit if gas prices spike. Though some will make the argument that the US needs the Smart brand like it needs more exposure to Bristol Palin, a new generation of lower-cost Smarts (jointly developed with Renault) could do better stateside when gas goes up again. And having lost money on Smart for decades, Daimler would have been crazy to let its brand equity be wiped out by become a Nissan rebadging outfit.

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  • Blowfish Blowfish on Feb 14, 2011

    it didnt sound like Roger Penske is making mulla hand over fists. Or else Merc has to pay him dearly inorder to get the rights back. The benzene engines wasnt all it cracked up to be being frugal on fuel. The oel burner was, but not sure why it couldnt be sold in the land of Flower flags or Gold Mountain aka Gim san ( thats what people in Middle Kingdom refer to as)

    • Bumpy ii Bumpy ii on Feb 14, 2011

      The diesel wouldn't pass US emissions without all the particulate traps, catalysts, and urea tanks that other USDM diesels need. It wasn't worth the trouble to design all that for maybe 2,000 sales a year, and more importantly, there's nowhere in the smart to put all that dumb shit.

  • Obruni Obruni on Feb 16, 2011

    i found the distribution strategy for urban markets to be a bit odd. In Manhattan, small sales-only showrooms exist for BMW, Audi, and Mercedes. The same could be done with Smart, allowing for a presence in neighborhoods with lots of sidewalk traffic. How much retail space do you need for this car?

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂