California Autos Examiner

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Where's My smart?

Update: It would appear that the dealer announcements are going to be delayed until January. Folks over at the forums have received this e-mail from Ken Kettenbeil, Director Communications & Community Relations at Penske Corp.

It is true dealer announcements will be made in January. The decision was made last week. The reason is once we announce our dealers, customers will begin calling, etc. We are currently in the middle of dealer training and our stores are not ready to handle calls, etc. We are still on target for January openings and deliveries.

For prospective buyers of the smart fortwo, it's been a wild ride. First there was the "we're coming. no we're not. yes we are" hanky panky that Daimler's various executives put us through. There was the smart SUV scare and then finally the official news that the next generation model would make it here.

As the website began to fill with information, slowly a plan emerged. Buyers could plunk down a refundable $99 deposit that was covered in so much CYA language, that no one really was quite sure what they were reserving. Then starting in late August, some of the first folks to pay the $99 deposit were asked to confirm their order. It was at this time that the full pricing information was released for the various models and their options. In the confirmation letter buyers were directed to a new website,, where they could enter in their login and password and finalize the model, options and color choices for their dream smart. Those confirmation letters are still going out as I write this, but what about those late August / early September orders. When will they arrive?

Not soon enough is what rabid fans of the fortwo will tell you. Unfortunately, smartusa is being rather coy about things. When pressed, officials indicate that some customer cars have been loaded on a boat and it is steaming its way to America. How many customer cars verses demonstrators are on that boat are anyone's guess. Supposedly the initial wave of confirmation e-mails sent out totalled about 300. Could all of those folks expect their smart in January?

Not gonna tell yah...yet. When asked about a realistic delivery date for the very first buyers, smartusa officials will only say "We are in the process of sending all of our insiders a more accurate time frame as to when they can expect delivery. " Deciphering that further, it would seem that smartusa will announce its dealership network first and then "release the hounds" as it were and have the dealerships make contact. So when can we expect the dealership list to be made public?

Have you been a good boy or girl? It would seem that if smartusa is going to finalize the dealership list this year, it is going to be before Christmas. The dead zone between Christmas and New Year's Day rarely sees any major announcements. One would hope that the ink is drying on the last of the franchise agreements.

In talking with some of the first reservation holders, it has been a somewhat frustrating experience. There have been no "special gifts" in the mail and with theoretically a month to go before first deliveries, not one reservation holder knows exactly where he or she stands. Smartusa has made a big deal over their 'net savvy customers and how they like to be communicated with via e-mail. However, newsletters and updates have been relatively sparse. Much to the chagrin of early adopters.

I've been a big fan of this car and I am really pulling for it to succeed here in the USA. Given the huge interest list that smart has generated, it would seem that at least initially things will go very well. Smartusa would be wise to keep in mind that once this initial rush of orders is through, it is going to have to woo less forgiving customers. Things such as the standard two year/24,000 mile warranty are concerning. Whenever the first smarts arrive at dealerships and are driven home by their proud new owners, I'm sure all will be forgiven in smartville. Just don't keep 'em waiting for too much longer.

Hang in there everybody!

The above picture is of course a first generation model fortwo, but I still rather like it ;-)

1 comment:

The Incredible Edible Dave said...

I reserved mine last August, just got the email to log in and customize... not too sure where I stand now...