California Autos Examiner

Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Chat With smart USA's Ken Kettenbeil

I had previously offered some insight into my inteview with smart USAs' Director of Communications, Ken Kettenbeil. Here are some other items that we discussed:

Awhile back, smart announced that soon its dealers would be offering apparel and whatnot via “Dealer eShops” on each smart center’s website. From time to time I would check various smart dealers websites and all I ever saw under the eShops tab was a “coming soon” statement. Ken’s response was that smart USA would be launching a national effort to market such items online later this year. Although Ken did not mention MINI by name, certainly MINI’s ability to sell its gear online is a model that smart would like to follow.

Another point I brought up to Ken was that smart was not allowing previous reservation holders to create multiple reservations for one driver’s license. Ken checked into the matter and e-mailed back that smart USA now allows consumers to place multiple reservations per driver’s license. I tested the site, but found my DL was still rejected. I have followed up with Ken about the issue.

For 2009 smart USA is expecting to add four stores: Forth Worth, Kansas City, Nashville, and New Orleans. This will bring the total tally of retailers to 78 stores in 36 states.

Asked about the turbo motor, Ken responded that for now smart was not looking at bringing it to the states. In fact, no additional models will probably be brought to the States prior to the electric drive model. However as previously reported, smart may bring additional allotments of Brabus models to the States. Back at the LA show I had asked smartUSA President Dave Schembri about the turbo motor and he responded that it was something they were looking into. Of course, Mr. Schembri acted “surprised” when I asked him about Tesla Motors working on electric smarts (something we now know is true), so these guys all have their secrets.

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