DETROIT, Michigan (AFP) — The US distributor of the tiny Smart car hiked its 2008 sales estimate for the small vehicle Wednesday as US automakers reel from a sharp sales drop in big gasoline-guzzling trucks. Roger Penske, chairman of the Penske Automotive Group of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Smart's sole American distributor, predicted sales would boom beyond an original estimate of 20,000 vehicles. The tiniest car on sale in the US market, accommodates just two adults. It is assembled in Hambach, France.
"We expect Smart sales will come in between 24,000 and 27,500 during 2008," Penske said. The Smart "fourtwo" car went on sale in the US for the first time in January. Penske said surging gasoline prices had helped boost demand for the small, fuel-efficient car. If Smart owner Daimler AG of Germany can deliver enough vehicles to the US, Smart sales could reach between 30,000 and 32,000 units in 2009, Penske said.
Comment: Roger Penske is "Head of Rationing" at smart in the USA with long wait times of up to a year to take delivery of the car. Smart can currently sell more cars than they can make. The underlying potential for economy cars in the USA is masked by the failure of manufacturers to offer them in sufficient quantities.
The gas-engined smart on offer in the USA claims 43.5 miles per US gallon - a long way off the real-world 57.88 miles per US gallon we are achieving with our 2005 smart diesel. Why not bring the new diesel version to North America, supposedly more economical than 'my' old diesel version? 70 plus mpg anybody? The car would be a humdinger. RLT.