No more ForFour…

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The 4 door Smart will stop being produced next year…
They were expecting sells of 210 000 in 2005. But could only move 115 000 cars…
That’s almost half.
The ForFour is built in Europe in the same factory as the Mitsubishi Colt, which will still be produced there.

I am not sure what happened. The ForFour looks like a very attractive small car. But I guess most people don’t think of Smart when looking for a “larger” car.
Smart will launch the next ForTwo in 2007. And by that time, it will be Smart’s only model left. No more coupes, 4 door cars..

How long can they survive with only one model to sell?

Conversation 7 comments

  1. that is still a decent amount of sales for a small brand, it sounds like the problem was in the product planners and accountants, than with the vehicle……, and from what ive been reading about smart in other places it sounds like daimler will be getting rid of them soon….

  2. It might look like a decent small car, but it isn´t. I had the chance too drive it at a launch event like 1 or 2 years ago, several versions (Diesels, petrol, manual & semi automatic). It might look different, but it just feels exactlly like what it is underneath, a Mitsubishi Colt (Not a bad car, but way from the bests in its class). And this is very different from the premium price tag.

    It was meant as a small premium car competing with the Mini, but it feels like a cheap econo box.
    Even the ForTwo feels somehow more upscale, at least better built (Nedcar factory was never known for build quality), but much more important, is far more fun to drive.

    While accountants and product planers killed the Coupe & Roadster (which I personaly liked a lot), this was simply an unispiring product, not smart. Just pretending something it never was.

    And about DC droping Smart: I have the impressions, that they are changing their opinion on a weekly base (at the moment they say they are keeping it) My guess is that the new ForTwo will be the last Car we see under the Smart brand name.

  3. I agree with Mick. Smart may well die after the next ForTwo. The problem may well be fashion itself. Smart approached the whole issue with, ‘Let’s design a fashionable city car’ with the original model; then priced it as though it were a fashion label. So far so good. However, rivals were doing the same thing—Renault Twingo, Ford Ka—all occupying a fashionable niche, but with value as well.
       The original City-Coupés were awful to drive, and as Mick says, the ForFour is not that great. It’s hardly a premium hatch, and faces the same problems. The Colt is as smart—smarter, arguably—but then so is the Fiat Panda and Peugeot 207.
       My great lament is that I never got to drive a Smart Roadster when they were new. If properly planned, they could have exported those little cars and beaten Scion in the US with funky vehicles.
       I also understand from some insiders that many dealers simply did not want these Smarts, knowing they would never get the foot traffic in to their showrooms. They were right.

  4. I drove the 2 door, great for around small Italian towns, but, don’t go on the highway with it. The four looked cool, that too bad.

  5. 115’000 cars is not that much if you have planned to sell 210’000. Remember that you can only make a cheaper price if you have a high output. If they had planned with 115’000 cars, the Forfour would have been much too expensive. Despite that, the Forfour is still too expensive (the basic price is low, but equally equipped as the concurrence, it is much more expensive). If you don’t sell enough cars of a car that is too expensive – then you’ve got a problem !

    Three more things:

    – Smart can survive with only one model – like there is only one Mini!

    – The next Smart will probably be sold in the US, what will raise the sales. I believe that it could be a success in the big cities.

    – DC can’t drop Smart – they need it for a better fleet consumption!

  6. Anonymous, I think you are right about a Stateside Smart. I saw one zoom by here today and my God, it looked terrible and dated. But for the US, with the next-generation model, I can see it working—but only in limited numbers in urban areas. And they had better get the price right.
       DaimlerChrysler US has reckoned it wouldn’t get the foot traffic and there are dealers giving Smart II the thumbs-down, from what I hear inside. But if Smart is smart, it will look at an independent dealer network and sell the first ones at a loss if need be to establish the brand.
       I also agree with Anonymous about DC being way too stingey with equipment levels on the ForFour; then again, the basic Mercedes C180 has so little as well. Who said these were “luxury” marques again?

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