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    • By William Maley
      Smart already finds itself in a small niche by selling small city cars in North America, but a new letter reveals that the brand will be entering an even smaller one.
      Automotive News obtained a letter from Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA which says the brand will cease sales of gas-powered models by the end of this year, becoming an electric-only brand.
      “Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current Smart product portfolio. Therefore, with the launch of the fourth-generation Smart ForTwo electric drive this summer, the Smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions Smart electric-drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada,” Exler said in the letter. 
      Mercedes-Benz spokesman Rob Moran tells Automotive News the plan at the moment is to stop production of the gas model for North American in April and continue sales until all of the models are gone.
      Smart has never done well in the U.S. Their best year was in 2014 with 10,453 models sold. Since then, sales have been steadily declining thanks to low gas prices and consumers going towards crossovers. In 2016, Smart only sold 6,211 models.
      Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Smart already finds itself in a small niche by selling small city cars in North America, but a new letter reveals that the brand will be entering an even smaller one.
      Automotive News obtained a letter from Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA which says the brand will cease sales of gas-powered models by the end of this year, becoming an electric-only brand.
      “Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current Smart product portfolio. Therefore, with the launch of the fourth-generation Smart ForTwo electric drive this summer, the Smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions Smart electric-drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada,” Exler said in the letter. 
      Mercedes-Benz spokesman Rob Moran tells Automotive News the plan at the moment is to stop production of the gas model for North American in April and continue sales until all of the models are gone.
      Smart has never done well in the U.S. Their best year was in 2014 with 10,453 models sold. Since then, sales have been steadily declining thanks to low gas prices and consumers going towards crossovers. In 2016, Smart only sold 6,211 models.
      Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
    • By William Maley
      Hatchbacks have never sold well in the U.S., but that could be changing thanks to new entrants and hotted-up models. According to a forecast done by IHS Markit, sales of hatchbacks are projected climb 19 percent this year. By 2020, the firm projects sales of 567,000 hatchbacks. What has changed?
      Some of this comes down to hatchbacks finding a niche market. Michelle Malcho, spokeswoman for Chevy cars and crossovers tells The Detroit News that active, urban buyers who are wanting a bit more functionality with their vehicle are turning to hatchbacks.
      “I think the U.S. likes the functional thought. The hatch for some people offers that without stepping up to that next level ... It really does fit what you need to do on a daily basis,” said Malcho.
      Helping out are new models and hotted-up versions. The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback made up 10 percent of the model's total sales in January. Over at Ford, the sales of hotted-up versions of the Fiesta and Focus grew 21 percent last year.
      But Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst with IHS Automotive cautions this will only cause a slight spur some growth in the compact class.
      “Hatchback sales have not traditionally been good in the U.S. It’s a relatively small opportunity ... they should help stem the losses in the (small car) segment,” said Brinley.
      “The cars are just so much better than they were, and it’s no longer a penalty (to drive a hatchback). It’s taking a while, but people are starting to understand.”
      Source: The Detroit News

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