Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Unsolicited Advice: Is smart a dumb idea?
Marc E. Babej and Tim Pollak 07.12.06, 6:00 AM ET
DaimlerChrysler's announcement that it plans to begin marketing the Smart car in the U.S. in 2008 made us think of an ad for a similar German effort 40 years ago: "It's ugly, but it gets you there." Remember? Volkswagen's original Beetle enjoyed a successful 20-year run in the U.S. Even the derivative New Beetle, launched ten years later, has found its niche. Will the successor to the Smart Fortwo compare?
Unlikely. For starters, the Fortwo is a whole lot uglier than the Volkswagen Beetle that stormed these shores a half-century ago. The Beetle was famously advertised as the car a snowplow driver uses to get to his snowplow. Meanwhile, the rear of the Fortwo looks as if it has been sideswiped by a snow plow.
Smart's track record suggests we should be skeptical of whatever decisions its executives make. Since 1998, Smart has reportedly lost $3.6 billion. In explaining the decision to finally distribute the Smart (following a much-publicized false start, which had been slated for this year), a DaimlerChrysler senior executive was quoted as saying, "The world, and the U.S., has changed in the last two years."
Read the full article here.