STUTTGART – Daimler AG's Smart microcar brand aims to increase sales in the United States this year despite weak sales last year and its upcoming separation from its American retail partner, Penske Automotive Group.
"Our goal is to at least increase our sales slightly in the U.S. compared with last year,"Annette Winkler, Smart's global head, told Automotive News Europe.
Winkler said Smart's global sales will be stable at more than 90,000 cars this year. In 2010, Smart sold 5,930 cars in the U.S. 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 falling to 50 from 75.
Winkler said Smart is considering launching sales in Russia. "We see a lot of potential in big cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. But so far no decision has been made," Winkler said.
In an effort to boost sales, Smart will emphasize the green credentials of its single model, the two-seat ForTwo, and will also promote the individualization packages offered with the car. "Smart is the green spearhead of the Mercedes-Benz cars portfolio. We will continue to establish Smart as a green, premium lifestyle brand," Winkler said.
She added: "We will boost our offer of special editions as well as our individualization program 'tailor made' - also in the U.S. To create a fully individualized car is a mega-trend that that we want to serve better." As part of that effort, Smart will offer "almost unlimited" exterior and interior configurations to buyers of its cars.