Saturday, April 28, 2007

Company says timing is right for small car

San Jose Mercury News
SAN JOSE, CALIF. - Carlos Ramirez has owned some classic cars, like a ’57 Thunderbird or a ’34 Ford Coupe with a rumble seat, but his current obsession might be his favorite.“I wouldn’t accept a Ferrari if somebody said, ‘Let’s trade,’” Ramirez said. His pride and joy, imported from Europe to Mexico and now at his Campbell, Calif., home, is a Smart Fortwo. The tiny two-seater goes on sale in the United States early in 2008. Early word-of-mouth praise comes from international travelers who have seen or driven the miniature cars — two fit in an average parking space. They have been on sale in Europe since 1998, in Mexico since 2003 and in Canada since 2004. Smarts are now sold in 36 countries, and the company says it has sold 750,000 of them in the past decade. Officials with Smart, a division of Mercedes-Benz, which is part of DaimlerChrysler, have hesitated to bring the car here — until now. “It’s the right car in the right place at the right time,” Dave Schembri, president of Smart USA, said in a recent telephone interview. (The company puts its brand name, smart, and its models, such as the fortwo, in lowercase, to emphasize its difference.)

Go here to read Schembri's reasons why he thinks the US market is ready for the smart car.

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