The new 2009 smart fortwo brabus is taking orders in the United States, for a $99 reservation fee. Automobile Magazine reports:
The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive – first shown as a technology demonstrator at the 2008 Paris motor show – will be offered to U.S. consumers in the second half of 2010. We’ve yet to hear firm specifications of the production vehicle, but it will use lithium-ion batteries, likely produced by a new joint-venture between Daimler AG and Evonik Industries.
Initial volume of the ForTwo ED will be limited, but Schembri revealed to us that volume production of the electric microcar will begin in 2012. It’s still unknown if the cars will be sold outright to consumers, or leased to customers on a short-term basis (as with the Mini E).
Left Lane adds that Smart sales have beaten expectations in the United States, in part because of a clever, hands-on marketing campaign:
Daimler launched the Smart ForTwo with the hopes of selling 16,000 units during its first year on the U.S. market, but actually sold 24,622 ForTwos in 2008. Moreover, that momentum looks like it will carry into 2009. Smart has taken 40,000 reservations for its 2009 ForTwo, which should already put the tiny two-door close to last year’s figures.
Although Smart’s fuel-efficient image is likely behind most of those sales numbers, Penske – Smart’s lone U.S. distributor – should be credited with the brand’s impressive sales figures. By abandoning traditional TV and print media in favor of internet marketing and a 50-city tour, Penske managed to raise Smart’s brand awareness from 18 percent to 80 percent.
Further proving how popular the Smart brand is, even a down market, Smart’s U.S. arm sold out its allotment of 1,500 Brabus ForTwos in just eight hours. Smart managed to get 500 more units for the U.S. market, which also sold out in eight hours.
The cheapest smart car you can get, the smart fortwo pure coupe, costs $11,990. The sporty brabus costs $17,990. But the website makes it easy to reserve a car for just $99, kind of like reserving your own personal toy, obligation-free. It’s a smart way to lock in consumers. Smart is tuned into the eco-conscious urban dweller mentality; I expect to see more Smart cars on the road soon as a result.