Penske Automotive Group has, until now, been the exclusive distributor of the Smart brand (consisting entirely of the Fortwo minicar and its new electric variant) in the U.S. But it won't be for much longer, as Mercedes-Benz is taking over operation of the brand's sales by the end of the second quarter of this year.
The move is premised on the integration into Mercedes-Benz USA's sales network, to grow the brand and reduce overhead. Bringing the small cars under the Mercedes umbrella will also benefit the marque's federal fuel economy ratings, according to Roger Penske, head of the PAG, and that's likely the primary motivator for the move.
In a report from AutoWeek, Mercedes-Benz USA chief Ernst Lieb says the previously-planned four-door smart based on a Renault-Nissan platform will be shelved, since there's no need for a second model if Smart is made part of Mercedes' U.S. operations. The second model was only key to the brand while it remained as a standalone.