FRANKFURT -- DaimlerChrysler's struggling microcar unit Smart GmbH denied a report in the Financial Times on Tuesday that its Chief Executive Ulrich Walker expected it to make a profit in the next three to four years.
"Mr. Walker said his personal target was to reach the break even as soon as possible," a spokesman said.
A report in the FT and its German-language sister paper FT Deutschland had quoted the Smart CEO as saying it was his personal target to make a profit "within the next three to four years."
"That was definitely not said," the spokesman said.
Smart, known for its quirky little two-seater ForTwo, has failed to live up to expectations since its debut in 1998 and was blamed for spoiling earnings at parent Mercedes Car Group this year.
Deliveries rose 22 percent to 139,600 units in 2004 thanks to the introduction of its third model, the ForFour subcompact.
But the German media has panned demand for the newly launched four-seater, reporting that it had failed to meet internal targets and that buyers exact heavy incentives from dealers before driving away with one.
In an effort to boost sales, Daimler is now selling Smarts in the same showroom as its exclusive Mercedes-Benz luxury brand vehicles.
Although Smart plans to reevaluate its product, marketing and sales strategy for the next three to four months, the company said it had already been working on a successor to the ForTwo.
"We also expect the (compact offroader) ForMore to be built," another spokesman said, despite a halt in its development process.
Smart had originally wanted to unveil its ForMore study at the current Detroit auto show, but then decided to postpone its premiere.
"We wanted to focus on presenting the Smart brand here in Detroit and see what the reaction would be," he said.
Although the Daimler unit sells Smarts in 36 countries including both Canada and Mexico, the brand has not yet been launched in the United States.