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Smart USA For Everyday

Posted by: David Kiley on January 15, 2008


The Smart fortwo is off to the races, so to speak. Seventy-four dealers and more than 30,000 $99 deposits. Smart USA chief Dave Schembri says the company’s research tells them about 70% of those deposits should convert to actual sales.

Indeed, says Schembri, if I want one and go to a dealer, my only hope is that a Fortwo that has a desposit falls through.

Some of the nay-sayers on Smart point to the fact that Smart vehicles will have trouble in the long run competing against more substantial cars that aren’t much more expensive, like the Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit. If the Chinese automaker ever arrive in the U.S., their prices could make life difficult for Smart, as well.

Schembri isn’t worried. “In Europe, Smart buyers don’t really cross-shop other products. All they want is a Smart.”

That’s what comes of unique and iconic design. The car is like nothing else on the American road. Indeed, the car I think it most closely mimics is the post-war BMW Isetta “Bubble car.”

Schembri, a former sales and marketing executive at Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Mitsubishi isn’t going to need much of his marketing skills at least in the first year. No real traditional advertising. “Viral and event stuff mostly,” says Schembri. Last year, the company did a 50-city tour, showcasing the cars at events like running marathons. They did 50,000 test drives.

A video Smart has been using at events and will likely run in dealerships uses the slogan, “Hello USA. Here I am.”

One of Schembri’s tasks this year is to lobby governments in key cities like New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Seattle and Miami to allow nose to curb parking as they do in most European cities.

Reader Comments


January 16, 2008 7:31 AM

"Hello USA, here I am?" Well, I am looking forward to the day the Smart's ad slogan will be known by American consumers: Smart: German engineering, Swiss innovation, American nothing! (
If it's not a marketing headache for Mr Shembri it will be pure magic for me if this car sells. Expensive, not that frugal if you consider the gas milage per person, no space for suitcase, barely cheaper than a real small efficient car. Even bought as a statement, could somebody please tell me what it states beside rejection and contempt America?


January 18, 2008 1:29 PM

While larger cars have (obviously) more storage space, there's more than enough room for day-to-day driving for one or two people. If you're looking for a family car, look elsewhere.

Mileage is better than any non-hybrid car, and I know a guy in California who made sure that his surfboard fit before commiting to buy his.

Joseph Kvarnstrom

January 20, 2008 4:21 PM

its a very good car


February 6, 2008 4:44 PM

Options. It states that we are getting more options. The US market is deprived of options. Yes, there are safety and smog issues that must be met in the US that keeps out other manufacturers, but in the long run, the more Smart cars sold means more future options for the consumer.


April 18, 2008 2:43 AM

Awesome. I enjoyed reading the article a lot. Smart car is a sensation in the field of automobiles. I have a collection of videos of several smart cars. And here is the link to it...


October 14, 2009 1:27 PM

Yeh sounds allright but not my car though sorry


October 14, 2009 1:31 PM

Yeh sounds quite cool, but i will still buy the Toyota Yaris

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