Acknowledging the fact that its Smart division is not performing to expectations, Mercedes-Benz has formed a new executive team dedicated to its Smart cars, calling it Daimler Vehicle Innovations USA. Led by the former head of Mercedes’ strategic retail development group Tracey Matura, the new team aims to integrate displays of Smart cars with existing Mercedes showrooms. Currently, there are 75 dealerships with Smart displays. Matura is aiming for a round figure of 100 by year end. In the past, most Smart dealerships were required to put up separate, independent showrooms. Integrating it with Mercedes dealerships, which topped a recent survey for customer satisfaction, will remind potential buyers of the subcompact division’s roots.
The move comes as a response to the dismal sales produced by the Penske Group, which sold almost 25,000 units in 2008 but has not been up to par since then. Last year, less than 6,000 Smart subcompacts were sold in the U.S., which would put any car manufacturer in a sober mood.