Sunday, January 24, 2010

Smart car starts leasing deals after big sales slide

Smart's new U.S. chief has only been on the job a few weeks and already change is afoot. It's needed, given how the minicar outfit has seen big sales declines. Now Smart cars will be available for lease.
The Smart ForTwo Pure coupe will lease for $169 a month. The lease term is 36 months, with allowance for 10,000 miles a year. You have to pay $999 down, a $595"acquisition" fee and first month's payment at the time of lease. The deal is good through Feb. 28.
Daimler Financial Services is handling the financing. Smart cars are made by Daimler - better known for the Mercedes-Benz - in France, but sold and now leased in the U.S. through Penske Automotive Group.
"Our new lease program allows customers added flexibility with financing options," said Jill Lajdziak [(pronounced La-Jek, picture left], the new president of Smart USA. It "allows Smart customers to enjoy leasing benefits such as low monthly payments, driving a new vehicle every two-to-three years and hassle-free vehicle turn-ins." Who is Smart's new chief with the hard-to-spell name?:
She came to Smart from General Motors, where she had headed the Saturn division -- now shuttered -- and replaced Dave Schembri, who got Smart started in the U.S.
"We have continued confidence in the brand based on the volume of vehicles sold since the Smart ForTwo went on sale and two years of residual value data to offer a lease option."
The recession, relatively stable gas prices and a not-exactly stellar record for reliability have hurt Smart sales. Sales fell 40.7% last year, Autodata reports.
Source: USA Today

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