At a time when the American automotive market is enjoying its most robust sales in a decade, Smart suffered a 67.4 percent year-over-year decline during the first seven months of the year. U.S. buyers drove off with just 441 of the fortwo models in July.
But worldwide demand has surged by 30 percent this year, noted Winkler, to 71,450, with the launch of the second-generation fortwo line.
In a sense, Smart went back to its original playbook, opting to find a partner to develop the newest version of the fortwo. In this case, Daimler's alliance partner Renault played lead in product development, and a version of the car is being sold as the French maker's new Twingo microcar.
The new coupe has undergone a number of updates, both visually and technically, though it still looks much like the original. It maintains the first-generation coupe's miniscule 8-foot length, though it adds about 3 inches in width to give passengers a little more shoulder room. It also gets a more powerful, turbocharged three-cylinder engine and a pair of new transmission options.
Those changes could address some of the biggest problems with the original Smart fortwo, including sluggish performance and a jerky ride. But there are still some concerns.