Smart says it won't do business with would-be U.S. importer Zap now or in the future -- apparently putting an end to confusion generated by Zap's recent announcement that it had ordered $1 billion in cars from Smart.
Ulrich Walker, president Smart GmbH, says there are too many concerns about Zap. The Santa Rosa, Calif., company sent Smart an unsolicited order for $1 billion worth of ForTwo cars. Zap had asked that Smart build the two-seat microcars to meet American safety and emissions standards.
Zap issued a press release on May 24 saying that it had placed the order. Smart, a unit of DaimlerChrysler, promptly said it never sells cars to independent distributors. A flurry of press reports, many critical of Smart, followed.
Even after Smart's statement last week, Zap said it will sell new Smart cars. Zap CEO Steve Schneider would not reveal the source of the vehicles.
Zap says it has the technology to homologate new European Smart cars to U.S. emissions and safety standards and has received federal approval to sell the vehicles in 45 states. It delivered its first car in May, has been taking orders that it says total nearly $2 billion, and is trying to set up a dealer network.
Schneider says the company got more orders than it expected, and "we found ourselves in a situation where we thought we were heading toward $1 billion over the next 12 months."