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Glance up through the second-floor windows of the Mercedes-Benz dealership on Baum Boulevard and you may think you’re gazing into a playroom of oversized toys. But those cars are real. You’re looking into the showroom of Smart Center Pittsburgh, local home of Daimler’s Smart Fortwo, the littlest hot new thing on wheels.
According to general manager Gregg Szabatura, Pittsburgh’s allotment of just 200 fuel-efficient Smarts sold fast last year, in sync with rising gas prices. Despite the sagging economy, demand remains high for the 300 distinctive two-seaters earmarked for Pittsburgh this year, even though a growing number are finding their way onto the dealership’s orphan list. That’s a roster of folks eager to buy Smarts preordered by someone else who’s already made a $99 online deposit then had a change of heart.
“We don’t really do anything to drive demand for the vehicles,” says Gregg. “A lot of people who are buying these are commuting inner-city and in areas where you have condensed parking, like Oakland and Shadyside. We have a lot of baby boomers who are parking their big vehicles and using this out in the suburbs to run back and forth to the grocery store.”
A desperate mum and her daughter have set up home in a Smart car after their house was repossessed in the credit crunch. Loredana Minopoli, 47, and daughter Valentina share the tiny two-seater motor in Milan, Italy, and get by for food on the 20-year-old's wages as a beautician."The seats break our backs, and the cold nights stop us sleeping. We're afraid to spend the night alone in this box so we always park near a police station," said Loredana. Source: Croatian Times