As Mercedes has taken over the distribution of Smart in the U.S. from Penske, it means that Smart’s plans to launch its own version of the new Nissan Micra are off. Since 2008, Penske has been distributing Smart in the US. In 2008, it sold 24,662 Fortwos in that year but sales have since plummeted, falling to 5927 units in 2010 as it struggled to market its one-car range.
The Micra-based Smart four-door was designed to offer a more complete model line-up and prevent sales from plunging further.
However, Mercedes USA decided to handle Smart distribution to contribute in lowering its CO2 fleet average and merge Smart and Mercedes in the only country where they had previously been operated separately.
According to Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb, it has become clear that Smart is an integral part of its goal to achieve the fuel economy targets of 2016.
Lieb said that Smart’s CO2 figures in the US are taken into account in Mercedes' fleet average, but the company believes that taking over the distribution will bring Smart to a wider audience via its larger dealer network, thus shrinking its CO2 average further.
Lieb revealed that the four-door Smart project will be cancelled. Under its agreement with Nissan, the cancellation may occur anytime. [via autonews - sub. required]