Mercedes Takes Over Smart Brand from Penske, Four Door Cancelled
February 14, 2011
by Mike Magrath
Mercedes-Benz announced today that they will take over US distribution of the SMART brand from Penske Automotive Group,
The brand was launched in the US with Penske as a distributor in 2008 and sales have been slipping ever since (24,622 units in '08; 5,927 in 2010). 21 SMART dealers which currently do not sell MB products will be de-franchised leaving 58 places in the US to find a new SMART
Mercedes also announced the cancellation of the four-door SMART which was based on the Nissan March.
Mercedes offered two reasons for the acquisition: First, Mercedes wants the small car to meet new CAFE standards for 2016. Second, Daimler rolled SMART and MB together in September and the US is the only place where the vehicles are separated.
"“It has become clear over the last few months that Smart is an integral part of our achieving the fuel economy targets of 2016,” said MB USA CEO Ernst Lieb.
Penske added, "we have launched a brand we can hand off to MB-USA. We couldn't give it the muscle that it needed from a marketing standpoint based on the volume."
The agreement was signed on Friday, but no date was given for the beginning of buybacks and shutdowns.