DETROIT -- U.S. car customizer Zap caused a stir on Tuesday by announcing it had ordered $1 billion worth of Smart mini-cars from DaimlerChrysler, but any deal seemed far from certain.
California-based Zap, which modifies the Smart car to meet U.S. safety and emissions standards, acknowledged it was still awaiting confirmation that the order would be filled.
The German-American carmaker's Smart division, which does not sell the Smart itself in the world's biggest car market, said it was unaware of any such order.
"Zap placed the purchase order directly to the DaimlerChrysler Group in an effort to expedite delivery of U.S. compliant Smart Cars to consumers. Zap is still waiting for confirmation that Smart GmbH will fulfill the purchase order," the Santa Rosa, California, company said.
The order was placed a week ago and Zap has not had a response from DaimlerChrysler, Zap chief executive Steven Schneider said. He e-mailed Reuters a copy of a purchase order asking for 76,500 cars at a total price of $1.03 billion.
The company was also looking to make the modifications required to make the cars legal to drive in the United States at the manufacturing plant in Europe in order to speed the process, Schneider said.
"The demand was growing so rapidly that we didn't want to miss the window," he said in an interview with Reuters.
Zap said it has received more than $1 billion in orders from U.S. dealers for Americanized versions of the Smart Car.
Zap is completely independent from DaimlerChrysler.
Loss-making Smart has dropped plans to make a sport-utility version of the quirky, snub-nosed urban car that was supposed to be its entry model for the U.S. market.
It has held out prospects of selling the next generation of the Smart in the U.S. market from the second half of 2007.