After nine years in the U.S. market, the Smart brand's inroads here have been small. And with a move later this year to electric vehicles only, the prospects of Daimler AG's microcar brand are about to shrink even more.
The strategy shift is enough to have many Smart dealers rethinking whether they'll continue to sell the quirky ForTwo two-seater.
"Electric Smart vehicles make sense in certain markets, but don't make as much sense in other markets," said Ken Schnitzer, chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board and owner of two Smart outlets in Texas. "So it might make some sense for some dealers to become service-only dealers."
It's a decision Schnitzer himself is weighing. His two Smart locations are in Dallas and Fort Worth, and he notes that EVs generally are not big sellers in Texas. "Drive times and range can make a big difference — it's not like being in downtown San Francisco," Schnitzer said.