Smart Car Sales in U.S. Will Easily Exceed Forecast
When Penske Automotive Group announced earlier this year that they would be the distributor for Daimler’s Smart car in the United States, their sales goal in the first year was modest at 16,000 units for 2008 calendar year. There were many people that thought that forecast was laughably optimistic. I predicted (in print, mind you) that Smart would easily make their sales numbers the first two years in the U.S., and then find the going a bit tougher.
Smart has taken 30,000 refundable $99 deposits for the car so far. The doubters said, “Well, so what, they’re refundable; let’s just see what the take rate is”. Now we have the news a few days ago that Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG, has told reporters that 9 out of 10 deposit-holders have subsequently placed full orders for the Smart. That puts Daimler, Smart and Penske well past their sales forecast as well as their extra production capacity. Dave Schembri, president of USA Smart, says that some cars ordered now will not be delivered until 2009.
Among the many problems an auto manufacturer can have, demand exceeding supply is one of the best, but it’s still a problem. Daimler would like to sell as many Smarts in 2008 as there are people that want one of the cars, but that is not going to happen. We contacted Smart last month to ask them what Plan B was if demand exceeded supply the first year of production as has happened, and they did not respond to us, but one has to assume to assume that production will be increased to some number that won’t be too high (unsold inventory) or too low (unhappy would-be buyers). But what is that all-important second-year sales forecast?
The Smart minicar is built by the Mercedes Car Group. Smart has never been profitable despite selling over 800,000 Smart ForTwos in 36 countries since 1998 and Mercedes is counting on the addition of U.S. sales to finally push the Smart unit into profitability.
Official retail pricing for the Smart ForTwo was released by Penske Automotive Group’s Smart USA in September, but for your information, we will reprint it here.
The lowest priced model, the Pure coupe, will sell for a base price of $11,590, and the higher-priced Passion coupe model will sell for a base price of $13,590. The Passion is also available in a convertible version that starts at $16,590. None of the prices quoted include shipping.
Every Smart model has a three-cylinder, 1.0 liter engine that puts out 71 horsepower, and every model has four airbags and ABS. The Passion trim level adds as standard: alloy wheels, air-conditioning with climate control, panoramic sunroof, a nice three-spoke leather sport steering wheel, paddle shifter and a CD/MP3 player. Tick the “comfort” option box and you get leather seats, electric power steering, rain/light sensors and auto-off headlights with exit delay. The Passion Cabrio has an even higher level of standard equipment.
These are MSRP prices; actual purchase prices may be higher now that supply is less than demand.
COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved