Smart has never been the success story Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, hoped it would be. Since entering the U.S. in the mid-2000s, the brand has gone on to sell a few thousand cars a year. You can blame that on having just one product to sell in the U.S.–the wheezy, sluggish Fortwo–and never expanding its range despite there being a four-door model once sold abroad.
Still, Smart looks to be rearranging its U.S. executives as it hopes to invigorate some sort of excitement for the brand before the all-new Fortwo arrives for 2015. Until then, you’re just going to have to deal with the cringe-worthy 2014 Smart ForJeremy (pictured above).
The fleet and used-car manager of Smart’s company-owned Manhattan dealership, Mark Webster, is being promoted to the position of general manager of the brand. The person he’s replacing, Tracy Matura, will be moving to Chicago to become the regional manager of Smart’s sales, servicing, dealer relations, and operations.
Mercedes-Benz is making plenty of other changes around the Smart brand and within its higher-tier luxury division to give managers more experience in different roles.
The Smart brand entered the U.S. in 2008, but it hasn’t had a whole lot of traction since initial customers purchased their cars. In 2011, its distributor, Penske, relinquished control of the brand back to Mercedes-Benz after failing to meet sales expectations. Through the first three months, Smart has sold 2,193 cars in the U.S., down 3 percent from a year earlier. In total last year, Smart sold 10,009 vehicles in the U.S., up significantly from the 5,208 it sold under Penske in 2011.
No matter who Daimler picks to helm Smart, the brand will never become the 45,000-plus-unit sales brand that Mini is for BMW without a fuller lineup in cars beyond a single, two-passenger urban runabout.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)