smart USA looking to bring Nissan five-door to U.S. market
By Ben Coxworth
October 6, 2010
smart USA announced today that it will be collaborating with Nissan on a new five-door car. According to a Memorandum of Understanding between the two companies, smart USA would obtain the rights to procure and distribute a five-door, gasoline powered, B-segment vehicle from Nissan for sale through the smart USA retail dealership network.
“The new vehicle will expand smart USA’s product lineup, offering five-seat capacity while maintaining the core principles of efficiency and conservation,” said smart USA president Jill Lajdziak.
smart USA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Penske Automotive Group, has been the distributor for Daimler's smart brand in the U.S. since 2006.
There's not much else in the way of detail to report on. The MOU is non-binding and only these two sketches of the car have been released.
“We are proud to be a partner with both Daimler and Nissan, two companies focused on bringing high-quality, fuel efficient products to the U.S. market,” said Penske Automotive Group Chairman Roger Penske.
Non-European readers may be surprised to learn that this will not be the first five-door smart car. Starting in April 2004, Daimler partnered with Mitsubishi to produce the smart forfour, which shared many components with the Mitsubishi Colt. After two years of poor sales in Europe, the model was discontinued.
Given that the main attraction (for some) of the fortwo is its small size, it will be hard to say how a “big” car from the U.S. distributor of smart will go over. Instead of the virtual monopoly that the fortwo currently has on the North American microcar market, the new vehicle will have a lot of competitors, many of which could be considerably lower-priced.
The five-door smart is expected to be available for sale by Q4 of next year. There is no word yet on price or specs.
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