DaimlerChrysler to Bring Smart Cars to the United States
July 6, 2006
DaimlerChrysler announced on June 28th that the fuel-efficient smart car will be imported to the United States starting in 2008. The company is developing a successor to its popular smart fortwo, a two-seater vehicle, and it will be available in three models. The company says the move is motivated by increasing demand for affordable and fuel-efficient cars in the United States. DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes Car Group plans to unveil the new version of the smart fortwo in mid-2007. The exclusive distributor of the smart fortwo in the United States will be UnitedAuto Group, Inc., which owns and operates 172 dealer franchises in the United States. Meanwhile, DaimlerChrysler signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) to halt production of the four-seat smart car, the smart forfour. MMC had been producing the vehicle at its plant in the Netherlands. See the "smart goes USA" Web site and accompanying press release (PDF 61 KB) as well as the MMC press release. Download Adobe Reader.
The DaimlerChrysler decision may be bad news for ZAP, a company that has been importing the smart fortwo, modifying it to meet U.S. standards, and selling it as the "Smart Car Americanized for ZAP." The company has sold 200 of the vehicles, which have provided a significant boost to ZAP's revenues. Fortunately, the company has other big import products in the works, including the Xebra—an all-electric three-wheeled car from China—and the Obvio, an ethanol-fueled micro-car from Brazil. See the ZAP press release and the Xebra and Obvio Web pages.