While U.S. auto giants are being battered by sales preres and massive price drops, and have yet to prove they can add fuel-efficient models to their lineup that will resonate with U.S. consumers, the Smart Fortwo is enjoying unexpectedly brisk demand in the U.S.
"Waiting time is over a year, depending on dealer and location", explained Smart CEO Anders Jensen, according to a report in the Automobilwoche. With the help of additional shifts at the Hambach plant (France), the delivery time is to be shortened to several months.
In the U.S., where the Smart brand was only relaunched in early 2008, there are long delivery times, he said – depending on the handler and location, U.S. burgers have had to wait more than a year for a Fortwo. Smart boss Jensen believes the Fortwo has an air of exclusivity about it because of the wait in North America. At the same time, however, he acknowledged that delivery times had to be reduced.
At present, the only Smart production facility in Hambach, Lorraine, is working in two shifts, and additional shifts are to be added to increase production capacity. According to Jensen, there are currently no concrete plans for the construction of a new plant. He told the Automobilwoche that such a decision could be made in the medium term if the brand continues to grow. One possible location mentioned in media reports is the U.S. site in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Mercedes already manufactures SUVs.
According to the report, Smart is aiming to significantly exceed the sales figure of 103,000 units in 2007.000 units sold in 2007. In the USA alone "more than 20,000.000 units in the U.S. alone", Jensen predicted. The target for the first year in the US market was only 16,600 units.600 units. In the first nine months of the year, Smart recorded an increase in sales of almost 47 percent to 102,000 vehicles.000 vehicles, with almost 18.000 units were sold in the USA.