Mercedes touts worldwide smart sales, but popularity of tiny car lags in U.S.

(September 30, 2011) Mercedes-Benz is touting the success of its tiny smart fortwo city car with worldwide sales rising to 69,073 for the first eight months of 2011. In addition, Mercedes says sales of the second-generation two-seater have reached a half million since its launch four years ago.

But the smart has not enjoyed the same success in the U.S. Through August, only 3,288 units have been sold, a nearly 25 percent drop from the same time last year when 4,357 units had left showrooms. That's a sales pace of about 5,000 for 2011, a huge fall off from prvious years.

For instance, more than 24,000 smarts were sold in the U.S. in 2008, and 14,500 in 2009 before falling to just short of 6,000 in 2010.

"Our smart has long since evolved into an icon, which is indispensable in the cities of the world," says Dr. Annette Winkler, Head of smart.

Mercedes hopes a new third generation smart fortwo electric drive will help jump start sales in the U.S.. It will be available for ordering from spring 2012. Those who would like to be among the first owners will have the opportunity to make a reservation online this fall.

Germany remains the most successful market for the smart, where 20,286 vehicles have been sold since the beginning of the year (plus 13 percent). As a result, the smart is the best-selling vehicle in its segment during the year to date.

However, the smart fortwo is also developing well in many other markets – above all in China. Until May this year sales have already surpassed last year’s total sales figure; since January almost four times as many smarts have been sold than in the period from January to August 2010. In August, sales jumped another 141.5 percent.