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After an initial surge, sales of Smart cars are dropping off fast. Globally, sales dropped 20 percent in the month of July, with year-to-date sales down 17.4 percent. Declines are led by sales (or a lack thereof) in the U.S., which are expected to drop to a third of the record 25,000 units moved in 2008. In total, just 560 Smart fortwo models were sold in the U.S. in July, reflecting a 70 percent decrease in year-to-date sales for 2010.
U.S. dealers are complaining that the two-seater Smart car (the only one offered) is scaring away customers who feel they need added passenger room. Also hurting sales is the lack of variety with just a coupe and convertible (cabriolet) version being offered.
So far Damiler’s actions to rejuvenate the Smart brand have been minimal, debuting a facelifted model for 2010, while also offering new customization packages that the company naively believes will help boost sales.
The four-seater ForFour (axed in 2006) will return to the company’s lineup in the future as part of a shared project with Renault-Nissan that will see the French automaker build the new ForFour and its Twingo model starting in 2013. There’s no official word that the ForFour will be sold in the U.S., but it’s obvious that apart from a massive spike in gas prices, Smart needs to do something big to attract customers.
GALLERY: 2010 Smart fortwo
[Source: Automotive News]