WASHINGTON — More than 30,000 Americans have put down $99 deposits for Smart cars in advance of the brand's formal U.S. launch next month, Daimler AG executives say.
The first-year demand will exceed the number of cars Smart will build for the United States, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said at a press event here. He and other executives declined to forecast sales.
Zetsche predicted that the Smart ForTwo — a tiny two-seater with a 1-liter engine that gets as much as 45 mpg — will be more than a fad. More consumers will want a fun, safe car that is economical to drive, has low greenhouse gas emissions and is easy to park, he said.
Zetsche said Daimler wants to partner with a U.S. city for a test of all-electric Smart cars, just as it has done with London and will do with a city in France. He hinted that a diesel-powered Smart will come to the United States but said Daimler will move cautiously before trying other body types.
During his Washington visit, Zetsche also addressed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and met with top White House officials, but not President Bush.