FRANKFURT -- DaimlerChrysler is taking a close look at how to save money on its four-seat Smart ForFour model as a way to halt losses at the Smart minicar brand, Mercedes Car Group chief Eckhard Cordes told a magazine.
Losses at the Smart business were "simply unacceptable", Cordes said in an interview with British magazine Car, but he reiterated that the automaker would not close down the brand because Smart has a youthful image and promising products.
"We must stop throwing good money after bad. I want to see some kind of profit and I won't wait forever," Cordes said.
"We need to take money out of the ForFour, we may not do the ForMore (sport-utility vehicle model), we may have to find a new cooperation partner, and create a revised business model and distribution network" for Smart, he said.
Cordes has frozen development of new products at Smart pending the outcome of a strategic review due next month.
Asked if the company's strategy for its super-luxury Maybach brand was also under revision, he said: "Maybach does not worry me at all. That's a small numbers issue. But like Smart, Maybach needs to be brought more into the Mercedes-Benz fold. The sooner, the better."
The Mercedes Car Group includes Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach.
DaimlerChrysler has said in the past it would not rule out finding a partner for Smart, and that chances were slight that it would build the ForMore, which it had planned as Smart's entry model for the U.S. market.
Smart now sees an updated version of its two-seat minicar due in the second half of 2007 as a potential candidate for entering the United States.