By on August 14, 2017


Daimler announced in February that it would stop sending gasoline-powered models to North America this summer and move exclusively to EVs after inventory levels decline. Dealers had until the end of June to decide if they wanted to be a part of the next wave of personal mobility.

With Smart swapping to electric-only drivetrains for U.S. retailers, we assumed the majority of Mercedes-Benz dealers still clinging onto the microscopic Fortwo would abandon it — as would every standalone Smart store still in existence.

Smart only sold 54 electric models within the United States between January and May, so it’s understandable that this summer saw over two-thirds of all retailers opting out of the deal. That leaves Smart with only 27 sanctioned stores within the United States, making it more exclusive than Lotus, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and even Rolls-Royce. 

According to Automotive News, while only a few outlets will continue sales, 58 agreed to continue servicing Smart vehicles. However, company spokeswoman Donna Boland admitted those numbers are preliminary. More dealers could opt out of both sales and service as the year progresses.

Penske Automotive Group, which originally launched Smart in the United States in 2008 as an independent distributor, plans to drop sales at all but one of its existing outlets, according to Tony Pordon, Penske’s executive vice president of investor relations. Penske’s remaining store is in San Diego, which has the highest EV sales potential of the bunch.

In fact, Daimler expects most of the persisting Smart dealerships to be geographically anchored to large cities or areas with exceptionally strong green initiatives — like the state of California. One of the few exceptions was Germain Motor Group in Columbus, Ohio. However, Germain only decided to stick with Smart after the city promoted its own mobility initiative.

“Columbus has established itself as a leader in electrification with its ‘Smart Columbus’ initiative,” Germain COO John Malishenko explained. “It’s well funded and focused on making Columbus a leader in alternative transportation solutions, so for that reason, we’ve decided to stay put.”

That’s likely to leave the majority of Smart’s on-road presence to regions that promote EV ownership through government tax breaks and Daimler’s Car2Go rental service. However, even though the car-sharing platform reached 2 million members in 2016, the business has begun replacing its pint-sized fleet with Mercedes-Benz CLAs and GLAs. While Smart cars will remain for drivers who want the cheaper option, Daimler plans to convert the bulk of its rental fleet to larger vehicles by next year.


[Images: Daimler AG]

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17 Comments on “Smart’s Dealerships Are About to Become More Exclusive Than Ferrari’s...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Daimler, please stick a fork in Smart.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Whooping cough may be more rare than great health in your 80’s, but I wouldn’t say whooping cough is *more exclusive* than great health in your 80’s.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Up until recently, our Mercedes-Benz / Smart, Volvo and Jaguar stores were all on one downtown OKC complex, Mercedes-Benz and Smart on one side, and Jaguar and Volvo on the other. All three were owned by Bob Howard…not to be confused with the local dealerships by the same name, which were sold by Mister Howard himself to the international, Fortune-500 Group 1 Automotive conglomerate—of which our own Sajeev Mehta is an employee.

    The Land Rover dealership is owned by Bob Moore, on the border between N. OKC and Edmond, and I guess that what happened is that Jaguar Land Rover persuaded Mister Howard to transfer his Jaguar franchise to Bob Moore Land Rover, so that those two could be in the same complex, and share maintenance / repair facilities (in exchange, I believe Mister Howard got a high-profit Jaguar store in Dallas).

    Mister Howard has also decided that the Mercedes-Benz and Volvo stores should move to the N. OKC / Edmond area as well, since he already owns Volkswagen of Edmond in that same area, and has extra space on the lot. All this is to say that it would be a perfect time for Mister Howard to rid himself of the Smart franchise, since it’s not a popular car in Oklahoma; I’ve seen exactly two of the new ones.

  • avatar

    I feel bad for that redhead. She probably quit her modeling career after having to pose in a Smart.

  • avatar

    MB Financial has been dumping off-lease smart cars at auction for dirt money. Electric smarts can be found at retail for $4500, even in pricey Las Vegas. That’s got to mean they are wholesaling for $2500, maybe less.

    With this news, they may become even cheaper. I’d buy an electric smart for $3k, and drive it until it dies.

    • 0 avatar

      “I’d buy an electric smart for $3k, and drive it until it dies.”

      50 miles? :-)

      (In before the EV h8ers)

      • 0 avatar

        You might be able to get a YASA 400 electric motor to fit into it. It’s small and might actually fit. At 700v it’s 221 hp and would make the Smart a bit more interesting. Use the passenger space for extra battery packs.

        • 0 avatar

          Took a quick look and the YASA 400 is about an 1.5 inches greater in diameter than the original version. Doesn’t look like it would clear the driveshaft on the previous version of the smart ED. Not sure about the new version of the car.

  • avatar

    I still say the eSmart is the best commuter pod in existence. Super cheap, park it anywhere. What more do you need to get one person to work on time in an urban area where you aren’t going faster than 40mph anyway?

  • avatar

    Forget dealers. Just sell it on Amazon and let the UPS truck drop it off.

  • avatar

    What is wrong with that redheaded woman’s face?

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    The folks at Smart should offer us the 4/4 small utility and the roadster. At least they would generate some traffic in their showrooms.

  • avatar

    wow, what an awesome car.its having a smoothers acceleration and nice features. love to buy this awesome car.

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