M-B USA taking over smart distribution for the USA - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 04:31 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation M-B USA taking over smart distribution for the USA

Current smart owners received this e-mail today:

Dear smart Owners,

I wanted to take a moment and let you know that today Penske Automotive Group announced plans to transition the smart USA business to Mercedes-Benz USA. It was important to us that you hear this news from us and not via news reports.

As a loyal smart owner this is good news for you. The brand will continue under the responsibility of Mercedes-Benz USA, a natural home for the smart brand given the product is designed and engineered by Mercedes-Benz. This transition will be seamless for you. You will be serviced in your market as you are today. Your warranty does not change. We are working through all the transition details which we anticipate to be complete by no later than the end of June. We of course will continue to have open dialogue with you through the next few months and please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions.

Thank you for your continued loyalty to smart.

Sincerely,




Jill Lajdziak
President, smart USA

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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and from Autoweek magazine

Mercedes-Benz to take over Smart distribution from Penske; plans for four-door scrapped

By DIANA T. KURYLKO, AUTOMOTIVE NEWS on 2/14/2011


Mercedes-Benz has agreed to take over Smart car distribution in the United States from Penske Automotive Group, the companies said Monday.

Penske launched the European microcar brand, which is owned by Mercedes' parent, Daimler AG, as an independent distributor in 2008. But after a fast start, U.S. sales of the tiny, French-built ForTwo have plummeted.

Distribution rights and management will shift to Mercedes-Benz USA. Negotiations over details, including when the hand-over takes effect, should be completed by July, said Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb.

The 21 Smart dealerships that do not have Mercedes products will lose the franchise, leaving Smart with 58 U.S. dealers. Four of the 21 dealerships that will lose the Smart franchise belong to publicly traded Penske Automotive.

In addition, a four-door car being developed by Nissan for Smart USA has been canceled.

Smart USA President Jill Lajdziak will remain with Penske Automotive, the nation's second-largest auto retailer. Mercedes-Benz will run Smart as a division, similar to its Sprinter commercial vehicle unit, and will appoint a general manager, Lieb said.

Fuel economy a key

Lieb said an agreement was signed Friday, but financial details have not been hammered out. Mercedes initiated the discussions with Penske in early January at the Detroit auto show, he said.

Penske got off to a roaring start with Smart, selling 24,622 cars in 2008, as gasoline prices reached record highs. But sales have tumbled in the past two years--falling 59 percent in 2010 to 5,927. But both parties said Smart's shrinking sales are not prompting the hand-over.

Lieb said Mercedes-Benz wants Smart back for two main reasons:

1. It needs the small-car volume to meet new corporate average fuel economy standards that take effect in the United States in the 2016 model year.

2. Daimler AG integrated Smart into the Mercedes-Benz car unit September. The United States is the only market where Smart and Mercedes operate separately.

“It has become clear over the last few months that Smart is an integral part of our achieving the fuel economy targets of 2016,” Lieb said.

Penske Automotive will handle termination of the 17 non-Mercedes-Benz dealers as part of the deal.

Penske Automotive CEO Roger Penske said the closings will include the buyback of signs, equipment and cars--in accordance with the franchise agreement.

Mercedes-Benz could give Smart franchises to other Mercedes-Benz dealers, but Lieb said they would not be required to build stand-alone facilities.

“In most cases a shop-in-shop has proven to be the most economical,” he said. “If you are selling one or two cars, you need consistency in personnel and expenses. It will not work if you have a stand-alone facility.”

Lieb said 300 of Mercedes-Benz' 353 U.S. dealers have upgraded their showrooms to the Autohaus corporate facility program.

“This will be a lot easier than it would have been three years ago,” he said. “The facilities are completely different.”

Mercedes-Benz to take over Smart distribution from Penske; plans for four-door scrapped - AutoWeek Magazine
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 09:14 PM
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Good news all round. Especially that the Nissan pseudo-smart forfive is going to be scrapped before launch.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-14-2011, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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Time will tell; there are enough horror stories on here about M-B service problems with the "big" cars to make me think all will not be rosy when the "little" cars show up at an M-B USA dealer for the first time. It may be like 2008 all over again when it comes to the service tech's learning curve for the smart.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-09-2011, 06:26 PM
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True, but over time it will be great.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-27-2011, 08:48 AM Thread Starter
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new smart USA leader

M-B USA recently announced their new manager for smart USA:

Quote:
Effective May 1, Tracey Matura will become the general manager for smart USA and will manage the distribution, sales and marketing activities for the brand in the U.S. reporting to Michael Slagter, VP sales. Matura has held her current role as general manager, strategic retail development since 2006 and has been instrumental in the development of the performance based margin system as well as the implementation of the Autohaus dealer initiative.
Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC: Private Company Information - BusinessWeek
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-14-2011, 02:00 PM
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Hi! I think MB taking over Smart will be great!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by mbonlineparts View Post
Hi! I think MB taking over Smart will be great!
No sorry this was not good news, because this meant the end of the CDI's coming to North America. Market studies showed the US buyers do not buy DIESEL cars, but Canadians love diesel cars, but to keep things simple M-B will now only import the gas version and no more CDI's. So Canada is the tail of the US dog, and the tail doesn't wag the dog, the dog wags the tail. So as long as US buyers won't drive diesel cars, we will see very few diesels cars coming to NA from Europe of any make.
VW makes a diesel (POGO) that blows away the Smart CDI and it seats 4, but not for NA, because we don't want FE cars here or Big Oil wont let us have them.
That's my rant for today, and no I'm not picking on you "mbonlineparts" or Americans in general, I just see what available in Europe and think we should have the same choices. I drive 50,000 km a year, why can't I have a FE car, when most Europeans drive a fraction of that and they get all the choices.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-20-2013, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting take on things, but the end to diesels in North America actually came in 2007 with the arrival of the 451 smart fortwo. Neither M-B Canada nor Penske Auto Group were able to get the cdi version, apparently a decision by the parent company in Germany. M-B USA did not begin importing and distributing the smart until July of 2011, long after that decision had been made.

As for Americans not being big on diesels, I agree - they make up around 3 to 4 % of total sales in the US, but things may be changing as Mazda joins M-B, BMW, Audi and VW in offering diesel powertrains for the US market. Unfortunately, it appears that the next generation fortwo (453) will not have a diesel version for any market.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 02-21-2013, 04:56 AM
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I believe that the lack of CDI's in the Canadian market after 2007 is what drove the sales figures down. As the FE of the gas 451 is not much of a reason to purchase a two seat car that's not a sports car. When there are cars that seat 4-5 with the pretty much the same FE as a gas 451. It was the FE of the 450 CDI that sold all 10,000 plus in two years 2005-2006 in Canada alone.
So it was Germany that dropped the ball on this one, I wonder what are the total sales of the 451 in NA per year now?
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