Smart USA’s plans to launch its own version of the new Nissan Micra are off, after Mercedes took over the distribution of Smart in the country from Penske.
Penske has been distributing Smart in the US since 2008, selling 24,662 Fortwos in that year but sales have since plummeted, falling to 5927 units in 2010 as it struggled to market its one-car range.
The Micra-based Smart four-door had been conceived to offer a more complete model line-up and stop the sales freefall. But Mercedes USA decided to take on Smart distribution to help lower its CO2 fleet average and integrate Smart and Mercedes in the only country where they had previously been operated separately.
Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Ernst Lieb said: “It has become clear over the last few months that Smart is an integral part of our achieving the fuel economy targets of 2016.”
Smart’s CO2 figures in the US are included in Mercedes' fleet average, but the firm feels that by taking over the distribution it can bring Smart to a wider audience through its larger dealer network, thus further reducing its CO2 average.
Lieb said the four-door Smart project would now be cancelled and its agreement with Nissan meant this could occur at anytime.
“We will stop the project,” Lieb said. “If Smart continued as a free-standing network, they would need a second model to make it viable. By integrating it into Mercedes-Benz, there is no need.”