The gray market could be a good measure of the Smart car's growing popularity. The company says the Smart car is on sale in 34 countries. There is just one problem with that: DaimlerChrysler officially offers it in only eight countries. DaimlerChrysler is displeased with gray-market sales because they leave customers without the proper service and maintenance for the Smart. However, one company executive admitted that the Smart's unofficial sales are 'another confirmation of the car's concept by customers worldwide.'
The new convertible cabrio and diesel versions are selling well, accounting for 21 and 20 percent respectively of 32,000 Smart orders in the first quarter yielded a total of 6,500 orders for the minicar. Before the cabrio and diesel reached the market, company planners saw each version taking only 14 percent of Smart sales. Now, to maintain sales momentum, the company plans more fuel-efficient engines and new designs for interiors. Consumers will see these in a year. Also planned is a decision about the Smart roadster, which was shown at the Frankfurt auto show last September. The roadster is in final development. This month, the company will decide to make it.