Sales of Daimler AG's Smart microcar brand last year were weak and it is set to separate from its American retail partner, Penske Automotive Group but despite that, it aims to increase sales in the U.S. this year. Annette Winkler, Smart's global head, told Automotive News Europe that its goal is to increase its sales at least slightly in the U.S. compared to the prior year. Winkler said Smart's global sales will be stable at more than 90,000 cars this year.
Last year in the U.S., Smart sold 5,930 cars as part of worldwide sales of 97,500. In the U.S., Daimler's Mercedes-Benz car division will take over the Smart distribution from Penske mid-year with the number of its U.S. dealers dropping to 50 from 75.
Winkler said Smart is thinking about launching sales in Russia. She said that there’s a lot of potential in big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg but that no decision has been made.
To increase sales, Smart will highlight the green credentials of its single model, the two-seat ForTwo. The individualization packages offered with the car will also be promoted.
Winkler said that Smart is the green spearhead of the Mercedes-Benz cars portfolio and that Smart will continue to be established as a “green, premium lifestyle brand." [via autonews - sub. required]