Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Roger S. Penske & UnitedAuto Group Selected as Future Exclusive Distributor

[Photo: Roger S. Penske, Chairman- UnitedAuto Group, Inc]

Read full story here.

smart Vehicles Go USA – UnitedAuto Group Selected as Future Exclusive Distributor

Detroit, Michigan, USA / Böblingen, Germany, June 28, 2006

Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management DaimlerChrysler AG (NYSE: DCX) and head of Mercedes Car Group today announced that the unique and urban-friendly smart brand will enter the U.S. market. Beginning in 2008, the successor to the smart fortwo will be available in U.S. markets in three models. The U.S.A., as the world's largest automotive market, will be the 37th market for smart.
The Parties have agreed on the framework for the exclusive distribution of smart vehicles by international automotive retailer UnitedAuto Group, Inc. (NYSE:UAG). UnitedAuto will be responsible for awarding potential dealers and developing and maintaining a smart vehicle dealership network throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

Read full article here.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Report: Smart cars coming to U.S.

DaimlerChrysler expected to announce plans Tuesday to bring fuel-efficient sub-compact to U.S. market.
NEW YORK ( -- DaimlerChrysler is set to bring the fuel-efficient subcompact Smart car brand to the United States in 2007, according to a published report.
The Detroit News, citing a source familiar with company plans, reported the decision will be announced Tuesday. But a spokeswoman for the Smart brand declined to comment on the report.
"We have not made any decision on a U.S. launch," said Bettina Singhartinger. "You can expect something this week. Until then we do not comment on speculation."
DaimlerChrysler has never made money on the Smart brand, which has been sold in Europe since 1998. The brand is part of DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz unit.

Read full article here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

UPDATE 2-Daimler denies will pay MMC $305 mln for Smart pullout

Reuters Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:04am ET
TOKYO, June 21 (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler AG denied on Wednesday a newspaper report that it will pay Mitsubishi Motors Corp. about 35 billion yen ($305 million) in part compensation for dropping production of the Smart four-seat minicar at the Japanese carmaker's Dutch plant. DaimlerChrysler's head of corporate development and northeast Asia, Ruediger Grube, told reporters at an industry conference in Vienna that the report in the Nihon Keizai business daily was "nonsense". A DaimlerChrysler spokesman in Germany said: "The talks are still ongoing." He noted the company had said in March that reorganising the Smart minicar business would cost around 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion). DaimlerChrysler announced in March that it would halt production of the four-seat Smart car model, which Mitsubishi Motors makes under contract at the Dutch plant, NedCar.

Read more here.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Celebrity cachet helps drive demand for eco-friendly automobiles
Carolyne Zinko, Chronicle Staff Writer Monday, June 19, 2006

At the 2003 Academy Awards, Cameron Diaz and Tim Robbins made an unlikely fashion statement: They each arrived at the Kodak Theatre in a chauffeur-driven Toyota Prius.
Since then, celebrities and wannabe celebrities have been getting behind the wheels of eco-friendly cars, to show that they're committed to alternative energy -- and that it's easy to be green. It's working. Toyota has sold 224,975 Priuses since 2003 without paying one penny in direct marketing to promote its hybrid brand.
Now, in the latest Hollywood extravaganza "The Da Vinci Code," Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou can be seen zipping down Parisian sidewalks in the tiny Smart car. Good gas mileage (60 mpg) and easy parking have made the vehicle ubiquitous in Europe.
But will the two-seat micro car, made by DaimlerChrysler and small enough to put on a pool table, come west the way the Japanese-made Prius came east? In other words, on green hipster wings?
Read full article here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Samaritan on the road

Rhewl’s Ben Beatham is raising awareness of Britain’s largest helping organisation, the Samaritans, by driving a Smart car around Denbighshire[Wales].“You may have seen a very small, bright green, Smart car being driven around the Denbighshire area recently, emblazoned with a rather worried and distressed cartoon character,” Ben said.“It's part of a promotional tour around the UK to raise awareness of the Samaritans, an organisation who are available 24 hours a day and 365 days a year to help anyone in emotional distress, despairing or feeling suicidal.”

The Samaritans can be contacted, in total confidence, on 08457 909090.

View Source.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Spy Photos of 2007 smart

Stateside sales: The front-end revisions signal that Smart has developed the new Fortwo with US safety legislation in mind. Despite DC delaying on a commitment to official exports to the US, the number of independent importers setting up to sell Smarts in cities such as New York and San Francisco is no doubt persuading the company that there is the market for the tiny two-seaters. Expect a formal announcement shortly.

Note: Notice black tape temporarily masking some new features of the fortwo.

For more spy photos of the 2007 smart go here.

Wheelchair friendly car lets you roll right in

Sometimes, an invention makes so much sense that you have to wonder why somebody didn't think of it before now.Such is the case with the Kenguru, a car out of Hungary that has been designed with the disabled in mind. No more wasting precious time getting in and out of a traditionally manufactured automobiles with your wheelchair. With the Kenguru, you just open the back hatch and roll yourself right in.You can lock your chair in place, pop the hatch shut, and off you go.If it seems too easy to be totally functional, it is. This is rather a small vehicle, on the order of a Smart car but actually smaller, since it carries the driver and only a few of his or her things. It also uses a joystick to control its movements.Still, it's a car that drives and goes a lot faster than you could if you had to rely on your wheelchair to get you everywhere. And when you arrive, just reverse the process: Pop the hatch, roll out, close the hatch, lock the car, and off you go.The Kenguru is designed by Rehab, a Hungarian company that specializes in products for the disabled. Pricing and availability have not been released.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Worldwide Sales at Mercedes Car Group Up 17 Percent in May

Stuttgart, Germany, June 07, 2006
Sales of Mercedes Car Group passenger cars were up by a strong 17 percent in May 2006, to a record 112,700 units (May 2005: 96,700 units). In the first five months of 2006, sales of Mercedes- Benz, Maybach and smart passenger cars totaled 508,500 units, a nine-percent increase over the same period last year (January - May 2005: 465,400 units).

In May 2006, the smart brand delivered 10,900 vehicles to customers worldwide. For the first five months of the year, sales totaled 49,400 units.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Why Wait?

While Daimler Chrylser is still pondering the decision to bring the smart fortwo to America, Zap! (Zero Air Pollution) of Santa Rosa, California has sold over 200 units through its network of dealerships in the USA.

In Pennsylvania:

Ferrante Motor Cars Contact: Anthony Ferrante, 601 Jackson Avenue, Vandergrift, PA 15690
Tel: (724) 567-5675 Toll-Free: (800) 715-5675 Fax: (724) 567-5531

Monday, June 12, 2006

DaimlerChrysler May Build Smart Car in the US

Citing DaimlerChrysler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche, Reuters reports that DaimlerChrysler corporation apparently considers building its Smart minicar in the United States. Talking to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Zetsche said that "the tendency [to grow Smarts on American soil] is clearly positive".DaimlerChrysler's CEO expects board of directors to reach the final decision till the end of this month. Mr Zetsche reiterated once again that his company is committed to turn now loss-making Smart minicar production into a profitable business.A year earlier DaimlerChrysler put off the assembly line its Smart Roadster, which will presumably be revived by the British Project Kimber, and also abandoned plans for a Smart offroader.

See source:

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Daimler eyes U.S. partner for Smart

HEIDELBERG, Germany, June 7 (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler is looking for a partner that could help sell the Smart ForTwo minicar in the United States, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said in an interview with Germany's Capital magazine.
"The sales network is decisive...It is certain that we want to cooperate with a third party," he told the financial magazine.
"The small city car doesn't fit optimally in many cases to the strong luxury positioning of the Mercedes-Benz brand and its locations," Zetsche continued, adding that only the group's Dodge brand came into question here.
"But it (Dodge) already has a very broad product portfolio. For our ForTwo we need our own smart way," the CEO said.
Zetsche reiterated the group is in favour of selling the car in the U.S. market and that a final decision would come this month.
Earlier, Daimler reported that deliveries of its Smart cars to customers fell nearly 22 percent in the first five months of the year.
Sales have been hurt by falling demand for the Smart ForFour, which it will scrap from its range -- leaving only the original ForTwo left from erstwhile plans that once envisioned expanding the line to four separate models.
Daimler hopes that dropping the ForFour model will help premium division Mercedes Car Group, in which the Smart brand is included, hit its target of at least 7 percent operating margin next year.
Zetsche reaffirmed in the interview he was certain that Mercedes was on track to meet this goal. Source.

Friday, June 09, 2006

'Smart' Prizes

Guelph Environmental Leadership executive director Glynis Logue shows off a couple of the 26 environmentally friendly prizes in the second annual Smart Changes Environmental Lottery launched by her group Wednesday - which was Clean Air Day - in front of city hall. The grand prize in the Oct. 27 draw is this Mercedes Smart Car. The group has printed 5,000 tickets which it is selling for $20 each or six for $100. Mayor Kate Quarrie bought the first ticket on Wednesday. Proceeds go to local environmental projects, Logue said. Last year's draw raised $10,000, and the group will soon announce how it will be spent, she said.
For ticket info, call (519) 763-2652.

View source.


Thursday, June 08, 2006

Is Smart coming to the U.S.?

The loss-making city car from Mercedes-Benz may finally be headed to America.By Alex Taylor III, FORTUNE senior editor June 8, 2006: 3:02 PM EDT

NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - You can see tiny Smart cars, those egg-shaped two-seaters, doubled up in parking spaces or sitting on city sidewalks all over Europe, where they have been sold since 1998. But Smart has never come to the United States.
The Mercedes-Benz unit has struggled to make money from the day it was conceived, and writeoffs to date run to the billions of dollars. With losses so steep, plans to sell the car here have been repeatedly delayed as Mercedes has struggled to find a profit-making formula.
Now, DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche is dropping hints that Smart will make its way to the United States. Speaking to reporters in Portland, Oregon last week at an event marking the 25th anniversary of Daimler's acquisition of Freightliner trucks, Zetsche said a final decision on Smart for the U.S. would be made this month, once a verdict was reached on how to distribute it.

Read full article here.

Note: The question of Mercedes launching the smart fortwo in the US has been hanging over Zetsche's head since he took over the helm in January 2006.

Previous SCOOT posts on the topic:

Zetsche Takes Mercedes Helm - optimistic about smart Friday, September 09, 2005
DaimlerChrysler near Smart car decision Thursday, December 01, 2005
DaimlerChrysler Stalls Smart Launch in U.S. Friday, December 23, 2005
Daimler may launch Smart minicar in U.S. Friday, March 03, 2006

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

But will it make it over Vail Pass?

Finding a mountain worthy fuel efficient car
Andy Stonehouse June 6, 2006

Drivers in the Vail Valley were among the first in the state to be hit with the grim reality that is $3-a-gallon-plus prices for fuel. And there is every indication that costs will be even higher as the summer rolls along.
It’s times like these that begin to prompt folks to consider some different automotive options, exploring the notion that there may be more to the car world than the oversized SUVs that nearly everyone purchased over the past few years (and now feel more than a slight pang of regret every time they head to the pump).
The most radical of the bunch is the Smart car, now sold at a variety of Front Range dealers (including Loveland’s Mountain View Motors). With looks and size that make it seem like a highway-worthy golf cart, the Smart’s 60 horsepower three-cylinder engine generates mileage in the 60 mpg range – but can still reach 85 miles an hour on the interstate. Whether or not you’d be interested in actually driving an eight-foot-long, 1,500-pound micro-micro-car on Vail Pass is another issue. The Smart cars, pioneered by Mercedes-Benz, might find a better fit in urban areas; facing off against 18-wheelers and Suburbans (not to mention winter weather), the little vehicles will probably remain a specialty item for years to come.

Read full article here.

Note: Vail Pass has an altitude of around 10,000 feet. We crossed the Continental Divide at over 7,000 feet with no problem. Can anyone report a higher climb in a smart car?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart

The promotional vehicle used to promote the 19th annual Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart. (CNW Group/Mercedes-Benz Canada)

smart fortwo sponsors Fashion Cares and Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart this weekend

TORONTO, June 1 /CNW/ - smart Canada will be sponsoring two very important fundraising events in Toronto, namely Fashion Cares and the Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart. Coincidentally, both fundraisers are being held this upcoming weekend. Fashion Cares will celebrate its 20th anniversary with another glittering event at the Toronto Metro Convention Centre on Saturday, June 3rd. smart willhelp the AIDS Committee of Toronto raise funds by auctioning off a one-of-a-kind smart fortwo K-Motine created by French designer JC deCastelbajac at the gala dinner. This vehicle will be the only one available in Canada. smart Canada will also have on-site representation with a "smart lounge", smart fortwo car displays and models dressed in a smart K-Motine uniform based on Castelbajac's concept, adapted by Toronto designer Farley Chatto. The following morning, June 4th, in a separate and unrelated event, a smart fortwo will lead thousands of cyclists and in-line skaters as the official pace car of the 19th annual Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart. Several other smart fortwos will be positioned at the Bayview rest station, the health exposition area, and at the post-ride expo located at the Bandshell Park at Exhibition Place. The pace car decked out in the Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart artwork has been touring Ontario to promote the event and the Heart and Stroke initiatives. On Sunday, this same car will be awarded for a period of three months to the fundraiser who generates the greatest increase in their on-line pledges by June 5th, as a thank you. Marcus Breitschwerdt, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Canada said, "We are very proud to sponsor this year'sFashion Cares and the Becel Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart, to help continue spreading the awareness for these two very important causes. It is a known fact that the savvy fashion patrons and health and heart-minded cyclists and in-line skaters who raise funds and attend these two well established and highly respected fundraiser events are key to their respective success. We salute them all and are thrilled that our smart brand can be part of these very rewarding efforts."
View source.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

DaimlerChrysler's Zetsche Upbeat On Smart Car For U.S.

Chris Noon, 06.01.06, 11:41 AM ET - London
The Smart car fits in well in Europe. Well, if you're 250 centimeters long, you fit in well pretty much anywhere. The Lilliputian roadster that can seat two people and a crate of beer may look agreeable parked up on Rome's baroque piazze and Paris' boulevards--maybe with a wing-mirror or two missing--yet DaimlerChrysler is now interested in bringing the mini "metrosexual" car to a country where size has always mattered : the SUV-obsessed U.S. Though the 8-foot 2-inch Smart car will certainly look strange on the U.S.' beach-sized highways and fare poorly on the rugged terrain of Uncle Sam's more mountainous areas, it could definitely catch on in Boston, Chicago, New York and Miami Beach. DaimlerChrysler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said Wednesday night that the chances of introducing the Smart in the U.S. were "good".

Read the full article here.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Smart Gains Ground in Canada, Loses Everywhere Else

June 1, 2006 by Dan Fritter / American Auto Press
Canadian Sales Up, Worldwide Sales Plummet
Unless youve been living under a rock for the past few months, youve probably heard of a book and/or movie called "The Da Vinci Code." Dealing equally with the works of Leonardo himself (Da Vinci means of the town of Vinci, after all) as well as most Christian religions, the book and corresponding movie have caused quite a debate about the role of religion in todays society. But even more importantly (ahem...), Tom Hanks, the star of the movie that opened to gross $224 million bucks worldwide, drives a smart car in it.

Strangely enough, while Mercedes-Benz is still undecided as two whether the smart will make it Stateside, Canadians seem to have a growing penchant for the diesel-sipping (the cars single most redeeming quality) plastic-bodied wonders, and Canadian smart sales in April soared... relatively. While the rest of the world was turning their back on the perky microcars we were buying them in droves, with 11 percent more fortwo coupes and cabriolets leaving Canadian dealership floors so far this year month than did last year. Thankfully, that 11 percent increase correlates to meager 44 more smarts on the road than last year, which in turn correlates into a total yearly fuel consumption increase of 185.4 gallons, nationwide, on average.

Read full story here.