Daimler AG (DAI)Daimler’s Smart plans to spend as much as $35 million on a new marketing campaign as the small- car brand seeks to remake its image in the U.S. after sales plummeted 76 percent over two years.
Smart, which had been distributed through Penske Automotive Group Inc. (PAG) in the U.S., switched to Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz U.S. operations on July 1 with Tracey Matura as the general manager. Sales of the brand fell to 5,927 last year from 24,622 in 2008, according to Mercedes.
“With the marketing activities that we’re going to have, we’ll see some positive momentum,” Ernst Lieb, head of Mercedes U.S. operation, said in an interview this week in Montvale, New Jersey. “The biggest problem the car has right now: Nobody knows it.”
Daimler’s attempt to reverse the Smart sales slide comes as competitors have introduced new small-car models in the U.S., including Ford Motor Co. (F)’s Fiesta subcompact, General Motors Co. (GM)’s Chevrolet Cruze and the Fiat 500, whose U.S. version is produced and sold by Chrysler Group LLC.
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