Washington DC July 3, 2006; The AIADA newsletter reported that Roger Penske thinks his UnitedAuto Group can profitably distribute DaimlerChrysler's Smart Car by "signing 30 to 50 franchised dealerships in urban markets, setting modes sales goals and relying on unconventional marketing techniques," reports Automotive News. Penske made his remarks last week after DaimlerChrysler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche announced plans to introduce Smart to the United States. Penske and Dave Schembri, who will be president of Smart USA, did not announce sales targets, but they have modest expectations, according to the paper. On a per-store basis, Smart dealers might expect to match the unit sales volume of Mini dealers -- about 40 cars per month. If so, Penske could expect to sell 15,000 to 20,000 per year. The automaker's total investment in the U.S. Smart network will be substantially less than $100 million, estimates Arndt Ellinghorst, an analyst for Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in Frankfurt.
[Photo: Dave Schembri - Mercedes Benz USA vice president in charge of Smart, who resigned as executive vice president of North American sales for Mitsubishi in February 2006.]