Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Daimler denies planning second Smart car plant

STUTTGART, Germany (Reuters) - German car maker Daimler AG does not intend to build another factory for its Smart brand minicars, the company said on Monday, denying a German magazine report.
"We have no plans for a second Smart plant," said a spokesman for the Mercedes-Benz division, which includes Smart.
He was responding to a report in Auto Motor und Sport that a second plant was under consideration given surging demand for the small cars, which was about to strain capacity at its plant in Hambach, France.
The spokesman said capacity utilization at Hambach was "very satisfactory" but he declined to discuss future production plans. He also said Smart had no plans for the foreseeable future to expand its product range beyond the two-seat version.
Auto Motor und Sport had quoted management sources as saying the company was sounding out the option of building another site, with Asia or the United States under discussion as possible locations.
Total Smart brand sales rose nearly 57 percent in the first seven months of the year to 81,300 units and were up by just over a quarter in July alone to 12,400 cars.
U.S. sales for the Smart two-seater hit 2,559 in July, bringing total U.S. deliveries to around 14,000 units since its launch there at the start of the year.
(Reporting by Hendrik Sackmann; editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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