Penske blindsided by Daimler’s decision to take over Smart USA?

Filed under: Convertible, Coupe, Hirings/Firings/Layoffs, Smart, Earnings/Financials

Roger Penske blindsided by Smart

On or off the track, Roger Penske is a force to be reckoned with. His team has taken the victory lap 15 times at the Indianapolis 500 and his business ventures have made him one of America’s richest and most powerful entrepreneurs.

Sure, the dapper, silver-haired septuagenarian has had his failures, but they’re few and far between – so it came as a stunning surprise when word came that, just days after officials from the Penske Automotive Group expressed their commitment to stand by the struggling Smart, they were given their walking papers by Daimler AG, which produces the minicar brand.

Apparently, the person most surprised may have been Roger Penske himself, as all indications suggest he may have been blindsided by the decision to pull the Smart franchise.

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Paul EisensteinPaul A. Eisenstein is Publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com, and a 30-year veteran of the automotive beat. His editorials bring his unique perspective and deep understanding of the auto world to Autoblog readers on a regular basis.

[Image: Todd Warshaw/Getty]

Continue reading Penske blindsided by Daimler’s decision to take over Smart USA?

Penske blindsided by Daimler’s decision to take over Smart USA? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Feb 2011 17:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Penske bails out of Smart distribution deal, Daimler takes over

Filed under: Etc., Mercedes-Benz, Smart

2009 Smart Fortwo Click above for high-res image gallery

So much for Valentine’s Day. Penske and Smart have jointly announced that the couple is going their separate ways.

Penske is walking away from it distribution rights, management, sales and marketing duties, but that doesn’t mean the brand is going anywhere. From now on, the pint-sized city movers will be peddled by Mercedes-Benz USA, and Smart says the move is just one part of a greater growth strategy. In a letter to owners, Smart said that all warranties will still be valid and that all of the transition kinks should be ironed out by as soon as June of this year.

Talk about a quick rebound.

Daimler handles Smart distribution the world over, so the move makes sense for the troubled brand here in the States. Hobbled by low fuel prices, Smart sold around 100,000 units globally last year. In comparison, the company managed to move 114,000 vehicles amidst the world-wide recession of 2009. A paltry 5,927 Fortwos were sold in the U.S. in 2010.

Rumors have cropped up around a number of planned new models for the company, including a ForTwo+2 as well as a five-door hatch. Hit the jump for the full press release as well as the company’s letter to current owners. Thanks for the tip, Vince!

Gallery: Review: 2009 Smart ForTwo

[Source: Smart]

Continue reading Penske bails out of Smart distribution deal, Daimler takes over

Penske bails out of Smart distribution deal, Daimler takes over originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Feb 2011 17:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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