By on March 6, 2015

Smart-fortwo-BoConcept-Edition-2014-51

In 2013, Opel left Australia amid poor sales in the land down under. This year, it’s Smart that is bowing out of the market.

Just-Auto reports the Smart ForTwo would soon return to Europe after finding little success in Australia, due mainly to consumers not wanting to pay a premium on a city car; the ForTwo’s $18,990 AUD ($14,727 USD) price is nearly on par with the much bigger, more roomier Toyota Corolla.

Since arriving in 2003, Smart has sold over 4,400 of its models, 3,517 being the aforementioned ForTwo. However, demand began to fall in 2005, and reached a point that by 2013, the brand only took orders online. Additionally, only 22 ForTwos have been sold in 2015 so far as the Australian market recovers.

Mercedes-Benz said it would continue to offer parts and service for the vehicles, and would do its best to move the remaining 60 days’ worth of inventory before Smart’s days in Australia came to a close.

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27 Comments on “Smart Follows Opel Out Of Australia Amid Weak Sales...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Aren’t Australians known for liking sturdy and tough, long cars? For their rough and tumble landscape.

    This is neither!

  • avatar

    Considering the landscape of Australia, why would you be selling luxury golf cart?

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @BTR,
      Golf? We have many golf courses here. I would think per capita we would rival you guys or exceed.

      Golf courses are a waste of great land. It would be more productive to farm the land than use it for golf. Imagine having a profitable agri industry throughout most large cities. Have a Fruit and Vegie shop (green grocer) at each one with no middle man.

      I’ve played golf, the Australian way. By the fourth hole I was drunk and would of been a liability even in a golf cart. Here a golf cart must have enough room for an Esky (Cooler in US and Chilly Bin in Kiwi speak) and maybe a 4 iron, putter, wedge and some kind of wood as an option. You can always use you iron instead of the wood.

      Some golf clubs here have a good restaurant though with relatively cheap alcohol. Makes for a pleasant evening. Sitting watching others waste time. Sort of like going to church.

      Maybe if churches had bars with cheap alcohol you would go in a watch a Sermon. It would be a great Church business model.

      If you really want to play golf go to Hawaii or up to Far North Queensland like Cairns or Port Douglas.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    My guess is this would be for someone who truely only planned to drive around town; and they would have other means of traveling about the country.

    I was under the impression that Australians used to prefer RWD vehicles because many of them owned a boat trailer. Is that still the case?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Sounds like a very limited sales market – those city-only dwellers! I picture Australians as adventurous explorers of the country. Ha.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Close , you have a few people towing boats and caravans with cars, but the bulk use SUV’s and Pickups. Still the loss of the Smart car, will be a huge loss, for Supermodels and interior designers

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      GM and Ford were both under that “Aussies prefer RWD sedans” impression. That’s why they are closing-up factories in Australia. It turns out that Aussies like what the rest of the world does: FWD compacts and crossovers.

      • 0 avatar
        RobertRyan

        You are totally wrong. I think you have posted the same thing before. SUV’s and Pickups are not remotely FWD. The best selling models for Ford and Holden are RWD,

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Exactly, and they are well behind Toyota, Mazda and Hyundai on the sales charts. They used to dominate the charts back when Aussies wanted RWD cars.

          Not counting actual trucks of course, since this is an article about Smart. We all know about Australians and their love of “real” trucks, thanks to a few beloved regular commenters.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It was easy for the Aussies to prefer Aussie cars when the import tariff was almost 60%.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            Yes the best selling Vehicle is the Toyota Hilux , the others now make SUV’s and Pickups, they make up 45% of the market, sound familiar?
            Unfortunately GM and Ford are trying to compete in that market but struggle compared to the Asians

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            Robert,

            The Hilux is third behind the Corolla and Mazda 3. A lot of Hilux sales are commercial (mining and agriculture), so it would rank lower in private sales.

            We used to have a similar situation in Canada: the Land Cruiser would rank in the SUV listings even though it wasn’t officially imported. Turns out there were a few thousand sales a year to oil and mining companies, and those vehicles were never registered for on-road use, spending their entire lives hundreds of kilometers from the nearest public road.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Heavy Handle,
            No you are getting it wrong. The Hilux is a daily driver for many people, the percentage of Pickups and SUV sales are similar to Canada and the U.S. Think F150 , but with a lot being used as actual work vehicles. You have 2WD SUV’s , but they are RWD not FWD
            Hilux position fluctuates. New Hilux will be out soon

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Big Al from Oz
            The FWD market is starting to shrink already. Quite a few new Pickups, SUV’s are in the Pipeline. FWD maybe ok for a smallish sedan on good roads, in the cities but not in a place where you are

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @RobertRyan,
            BrisVegas?

          • 0 avatar
            RobertRyan

            @Big Al from Oz,
            Northern Territory

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @RobertRyan,
            I was relocated after Christmas.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @heavyhandle,
            In Australia I don’t know anyone who uses a real truck as a daily driver to collect the kids from school and take them to football and go to the hardware and supermarket.

            Why would you use a 10 or 12 litre diesel truck 35′ long to do what you are stating.

            As a matter of fact I haven’t seen anyone in the US use real trucks as a daily driver.

            We have utes, we have all sizes from around the world. From US HDs to even Indian Tata’s.

            Ute prices here range from $17 000 for a tray back diesel to over $100 000 for the big boys toy HDs.

            When discussing “real trucks” Australia actually use larger trucks than the US overall.

            A B Double is a normal interstate truck and now B Triples are becoming common. When you are around 120 miles to 250 miles from the east coast we have Road trains that can have up to 3 and a half trailers, and in the more remote regions I’ve seen 7 trailers.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            BAfO,

            I wasn’t talking about taking the kids to the mall in actual tractors, but rather the old-school BoF SUVs that most of the Aussie commenters here seem so fond of. Thanks for the lesson in Australian on-road transport.

            Road trains have a fair bit of notoriety in North America. They are in some ways the ultimate big rig. Those sorts of things are illegal here (maximum length), and their niche is filled by freight trains.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @heavy handle,
        Until recently we never had a 2WD SUV in our market. A SUV meant 4hi and 4lo. Now with the CUVs many are buying a 2WD CUV. Which are just more efficient station wagons. They offer good utility. Bland, but they get the job done for thousands of families.

        I would think overall RWD has the largest stranglehold here. But I do believe the FWD will dominate. Especially now that we don’t have any taxes or import barriers. We don’t have a 25% chicken tax or different regulations to stifle competition.

        With no taxes other than our GST (like a state tax) of 10% we can buy a new Corolla for $19 000 (incl GST and delivery) prior to bargaining, or $15 000USD.

        On the other hand low volume vehicle cost more. But then again Australia is has the largest ownership of performance vehicles per capita globally. So the pricing isn’t really impacting the upper end of the market.

        A typical Japanese work ute/pickup with a diesel is now around $23 000 for a 2.8 litre diesel Colorado or around $18 500USD. Not bad.

        We can get a new Cummins powered ute with a tray fitted for around $14 000USD.

        It worked out that each and every car manufactured in Australia was subsidised to the tune of $2 000 per vehicle. The US is $3 000 and the Germans, who appear better is sitting on $1 300.

        We now let other country’s taxpayers subsidise the manufacture of the vehicles we buy. How smart is that! Every American vehicle sold here irrespective if it’s a Toyota Kluger (Highlander) or Jeep or whatever is having $3 000 donated to us by you.

        This is a win – win for the consumer. The Australian car market is the most diverse globally. It is way too small in a global world to sustain itself. The current government did the correct thing and forced GM, Ford and Toyota to stand on their own two feet or go.

        The first country to dramatically reduce “corporate welfare” will be the country that succeeds better than others. Economic liberalism is the correct way to manage an economy.

        We now have retained the cream auto industry jobs in design and engineering and leave the manufacturing to the less well off countries with lower wages.

        Even with the loss of the auto manufacturing jobs last year, jobs directly involved in our auto industry increased by 24 000. So, you don’t require manufacturing to increase jobs.

        Even with imports you still require, dealerships, mechanics, logistic and engineering support. This doesn’t include the guys working in discount and auto shops selling parts and accessories or the fitting of accessories, etc. It makes manufacturing jobs less significant at the end of the day.

        Our vehicle market is actually used as a litmus for other Euro and North American markets. If it can stand on it’s own two feet in Australia it will pretty much make it a successful vehicle.

        That’s also why we have a great design and engineering capability. GM and Ford had to compete with the best in the world. This was the Asians and Europeans.

        If you follow the industry you will find Australia receives new models quite early than most other countries. The US appears to lag in receiving new vehicles more than the countries that are aligned to the Global Harmonisation of the auto industry.

        This Smart car will struggle in many global markets if it failed here. Its way to expensive. If it was priced around $10 000AUD or $7 800USD it might have made it.

  • avatar

    What is this “As the market recovers” about? As if the health of the overall automotive marketplace has anything to do with smart’s abject failure. Its just a truly pointless car.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Smarts were never advertised in OZ, and most were bought by older folks as a 2nd or 3rd car .Just like Fords Ka , they weren’t aimed at their target demographic. I was at a car auction last year and saw a perfect condition Smart sell for $1400…
    Now to utes, most Ford and Holden utes were being bought by 20-30 year old cashed up mine workers .Those same mines never bought Toyota’s Hi luxes .The vehicle of choice WAS the landcruiser short cab and chassis. A vehicle which was built in OZ,not imported. The market is flooded with ex mine utes,low mileage but never serviced . With the collapse of OZ’s mining industry most of those who were buying the utes as toys have gone from the market completely.
    For those in the know,for the last few years the 4×4 has been the Isuzu D-Max which has outsold all of the others. The 2nd are Mitsubishi’s .
    Those who live in OZ will know that 99% of the population lives on the easst coast and those who live in the west beyond the dividing range once drove Toyota’s. Parts and service costs have driven most new Toyota buyers from this part of the market and they have flocked to the D-max in Droves.
    As RWD cars, the market is now that of the small car,a big seller here in my area are those ridiculous Fiats which look like a bloated 500 .Car rego fees and fuel price ripoffs from the big two (Coles and woolworths) have wiped out most big car sales for the average driver in 2015.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @Ron. B,
      Massive amount of disinformation there ” cashed he’d up mine workers” Must be a lot of mine workers in Offices in Syd, Melb , Brisbane;
      No the LandCruiser was imported not built in Australia ; “DMax in droves” Do you sell Isuzu’s?, they are not selling that well
      45% of sales are SUV’s and Pickups. Small car sales are diminishing

  • avatar
    shaker

    I know a fellow who works in an auto body shop that bought a 2-year old Smart for $10k. He proceeded to gussy it up with that plastichrome stick-on trim, and, truthfully, it doesn’t look all that bad. I sat in the passenger side and was surprised how comfy it was (and I’m 6’4″).
    Yes, the little motor is rough, and the transmission is pretty god-awful, but for some, it’s enough. It keeps the rain off, and gets you where you need to go.

    There is a market for this car, it’s just too expensive for what it is.

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