Although the rest of the world has been driving the smart car for years, the US has not been an official market, even though a small number are on the roads here. Starting in 2008, all of that changes as the Mercedes manufactured smart will go on sale in the States and to introduce the car to the public, smart USA is launching a road show, a traveling tour with a trailer truck loaded with smarts, stopping in cities across the country and letting everyone get up close and personal with the micro car.
There will actually be three separate tours conducted simultaneously, one each for the Western, Central and Eastern regions of the U.S., stopping for about four days in each city and giving people an idea of what these cars are really like. The introduction of the smart has been an on again, off again promise for some time, evidently there was some concern about whether the little car would generate enough sales in the US to make it worthwhile. Personally, I think the car will be a big success in urban areas where it gives commuters the ability to scoot around and park in the tiniest of spaces. It will not be a cross country cruiser, but then, it isn't intended to be.
Some look at the smart as a slow car with little appeal but even the smart has been hot rodded by a few companies and a couple of years ago, the Smartuki was born when a 180 horsepower Suzuki GSX-R1000 engine was dropped into the engine bay, generating loads of performance, wide eyed stares and more than a few puzzled looks.
If you think a smart might appeal to you, you can reserve one now for $99. The initial demand might be pretty high so if you want to be the first on your block to drive the little fortwo, now is the time to step up.
smart USA press release and links follow:
A small car with a big urban solution is coming to the streets of cities across the United States as eager consumers will have their first opportunity to experience the fun and functionality of the smart fortwo. smart USA Distributor LLC, a subsidiary of United Auto Group, Inc, (NYSE:UAG), is launching a national road show May 19, starting in Los Angeles, California, to introduce the revolutionary smart fortwo to U.S. consumers. The tour provides a hands-on experience, allowing consumers to test-drive the fortwo and experience its innovation, functionality and the joy of driving. The 50-city tour will visit events from festivals and universities, to sporting events and retail outlets, to other popular city destinations through November.
“The smart fortwo is all about urban independence and freeing people from the constraints of city driving, so this road show offers consumers a unique way to discover the brand and get up close and personal with this amazing car,” said Dave Schembri, president of smart USA. “The best way to understand the benefits of a smart fortwo is to experience it – and this vehicle will change the way drivers look at the driving experience.”
Three road show teams will visit three regions of the country simultaneously, showcasing four drivable vehicles at each stop. The tour will stop in each city for approximately four days, starting in Los Angeles in May, and ending in Miami in November. The anticipated road show schedule is noted on the next page, and updates can be found at www.smartusa.com.
Each road show stop will showcase the fortwo in a truly smart fashion, highlighting how the vehicle offers urban mobility at its best. The tour will roll into each city in a large, smart-branded semi-truck adorned with depictions of smart vehicles on the side and smart fortwo vehicles inside. The truck’s trailer will transform into a mobile smart exhibit, complete with interactive displays and virtual demonstrations, including a display of the tridion cell (steel cage surrounding the driver and passenger for protection in case of a crash), the four airbags, electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, and other features typically reserved for luxury vehicles. Vehicle test-drives will be conducted on either a closed course or on neighboring streets, depending on the location. During the drive, consumers will be able to experience the vehicle’s dynamic capabilities and benefits including acceleration, braking, steering response, maneuverability, safety and ease of parking. A smart representative will accompany each test-drive to explain vehicle features and abilities, plus answer questions during the driving experience.
In addition to test-driving the new fortwo and interacting with smart USA team members, event attendees can register as a smart “insider” to receive regular updates to keep them in touch with the latest smart news. Away from the event, consumers may place a $99 refundable reservation for a production model on the smart USA home page (www.smartusa.com) by clicking on the reservation link and following the instructions.
The smart fortwo
The smart fortwo is expected to go on sale in the United States in the first quarter of 2008 through a dealership network being developed by smart USA, the exclusive distributor of the smart fortwo in the United States and Puerto Rico. Approximately 50-70 dealers are expected to be appointed across the country.
The 2008 smart fortwo will be available in three trim levels. The entry-level pure is planned to start at under $12,000a, with standard convenience features such as a 5-speed automated manual transmission with manual or automatic mode, central remote locking system, 2-spoke leather steering wheel, and a radio-ready console. The well-equipped passion coupe, expected to start at under $14,000a, includes all the standard features described on the pure, plus a panorama roof, alloy wheels, air conditioning with climate control, 3-spoke leather sports steering wheel with shift paddles, power windows, electric and heated side mirrors, and an AM/FM radio with CD player, all standard. Those seeking top-down excitement can choose the passion cabriolet, planned to start at under $17,000a, with a standard upgraded radio and sound system that includes an mp3 compatibility and in-dash 6 CD changer.
Each vehicle features the two-color concept characteristic of the smart brand. All models come standard with a black tridion safety cell that can be upgraded to metallic silver at an additional cost. The changeable body panels are available in six colors - deep black, light yellow and crystal white are standard, while blue metallic, red metallic and silver metallic are offered for an additional charge. Additional details on all trim levels and colors are available on the smart USA website.
Expected prices exclude tax, license, registration, destination charge and options.
ABOUT smart and smart USA
The smart fortwo is manufactured by the Mercedes Car Group and is a member of the DaimlerChrysler family. This technologically advanced vehicle has been designed to achieve 40 plus m.p.g. under normal driving conditions. The vehicle is 8.8 feet long, 5.1 feet tall and 5.1 feet wide and comes equipped with many functional and safety features reserved for most luxury models. The smart dealer network will be announced during the second half of 2007. smart is currently sold in 36 countries, and over 770,000 smart fortwos have been sold since 1998.