NEW YORK – Smart’s U.S. deliveries are running 100.4% ahead of year-ago, and the Mercedes-Benz brand has achieved 13 consecutive months of sales increases, General Manager Tracey Mutura says.
She admits 2012 U.S. sales won't approach the 24,622 units Smart recorded in 2008, its inaugural year. At that time, Smart was distributed by Roger's United Auto Group. Mercedes took over distribution last year and plans to introduce new models, including a third-generation electric vehicle, next year.
Smart sales in the country totaled 5,208 units in 2011, and “We have a good shot at doubling that this year,” Matura says.
Through Nov. 30, Smart global deliveries increased 2.2%, compared with year-ago, to 96,383 units. Mercedes says it's on target to break the 100,000 mark this year.
There are three Smart models: the Pure, priced at $12,490; Passion, $14,890; and Cabriolet, $17,890. The Passion is the volume model, she says, but does not provide average transaction prices of any of the models.
Smart has been leasing a fleet of 250 EVs but plans to introduce an all-new model next spring. Mutura predicts the EV eventually will account for one-third of all Smart sales.
The vehicle will be sold in all states with Zero Emission Vehicles standards, including California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine. Auto makers in the so-called ZEV states must build a certain percentage of zero-emissions vehicles.
The Smart EV, which will be produced at a Hambach, France, factory considered one of the industry’s greenest, will be priced at $25,000 for the coupe and $28,000 for the Cabriolet in the U.S. Matura says the next-generation EV will have a more powerful lithium-ion battery pack.
It also will achieve a gasoline equivalent of 122 mpg (1.9 L/100 km) as rated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
China has been Smart's biggest market in 2012, followed by Germany and the U.S.
A second-generation Smart car is scheduled to debut in 2015. Mercedes is partnering withto produce that model that, like the current version, will be a 2-seater. Mercedes neither has decided whether to offer a 4-seater or what model year the new Smart model will be labeled, Matura says.
Matura is focused on steady growth for the Smart brand. “We don't think of getting back to thevolumes at this time,” she says, but notes Mercedes intends to boost sales with the second-generation model.