With the economy still circling the drain and a great deal of uncertainty in many people's futures, it just isn't the time to buy a car - a fact the industry is painfully aware of, and one which Smart's U.S. distributor, Penske Automotive Group, is now also feeling.
The cars left behind after such cancellations are called 'orphans' by dealers, because they no longer have a home to go to. The rate ForTwos have been orphaned is up since November, with some dealers having several dozen orphans on their lots. Still, Smart USA is optimistic about meeting its annual sales goal of 25,000 vehicles.
Last year Smart sold 24,622 of the little city runabouts in the U.S. We have probably had a few more cancellations in January or February than in the middle of the year, but that is not unusual in this kind of economy," David Schembri, president of Smart USA, told Automotive News.
Penske had previously figured on up to 32,000 units in sales in 2009, but that was before the bottom fell out of the market. Revising figures downward to near-maintenance levels on 2008 sales is a still a bold proposal, with many carmakers looking at a 40% decrease over a year ago. The company is definitely keeping a positive outlook, however, as rumors of plans for a revival of the ForFour - or at least a new four-seater Smart car - are also making the rounds.