Smart Sells 24,622 ForTwos in 2008

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In a market typically saturated by SUVs, the micro-car Smart ForTwo has done astonishingly well. Smart exceeded Daimler AG and Penske Automotive Group Inc.’s sales target by over 50 percent.

Before Smart’s official U.S. launch, Roger Penske, the man in charge of Penske Automotive Group and spearheading the microcar’s American debut anticipated a demand for 16,000 ForTwos each year. We imagine he’s a bit surprised, seeing as nearly 24,622 examples were sold in 2008 alone.

That number’s impressive for any automaker’s initial year, but perhaps even more so considering how the cars are sold. Dealers adopted an interesting approach to market the ForTwo in that they didn’t use conventional media– there were no TV or print ads touting the car. Instead, they relied upon a fifty-city tour, which built a considerable amount of buzz. Indeed, Smart USA president Dave Schembri told us at the 2009 Detroit auto show that many Smart sales are generated via word of mouth.

Another unique touch was Smart’s reservation program – for $99, customers can reserve their car and be placed on a waiting list. While they await their ForTwo, they’re notified of production updates and can choose the car’s color months before its assembly. Presently, there are 25,000 customers on the U.S. waiting list – though a new program may help expedite their wait.

Called “SmartExpress,” the service matches customers on a waiting list if a Smart matching their specifications becomes available (or “orphaned,” as Smart calls it). Re-routing cars in such a matter may possibly reduce waiting lists in urban markets like Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.

Source: Automotive News

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