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Decision Soon on Selling Smart Car in U.S.A.

The Smart unit, part of the Mercedes group, has not posted a profit since it started up in 1998.

Published: 05-Jun-2006

lerChrysler will decide this month whether to introduce the ultracompact car Smart to the United States, according to the chief executive, Dieter Zetsche.

 
Zetsche made the announcement in Portland on Wednesday as DaimlerChrysler celebrated the 25th anniversary of its acquisition of heavy- truck maker Freightliner. The Smart production technology is ready, he said.
 
Younger American drivers looking for something economical and different may see Smart as an alternative to the Honda Fit or the Toyota Scion, said Erich Merkle, director of forecasting for IRN, an automotive industry consulting firm.
 
"I think the Smart is exciting," Merkle said. "There is some potential."
 
The Smart unit, part of the Mercedes group, has not posted a profit since it started up in 1998. DaimlerChrysler has restructured the unit, cutting hundreds of jobs and two models. Smart produced 124,300 cars last year, fewer than in 2004. Zetsche said he was optimistic that the unit would make a profit in 2007. Smart cars are popular in Europe.
 
DaimlerChrysler's truck division, meanwhile, is enjoying a profitable period as Freightliner's financial performance has improved in the past few years. The division is expected to keep growing and become the benchmark in profitability for DaimlerChrysler in North America, company executives said Wednesday.
 
New, more stringent emission guidelines that take effect in 2007 are expected to reduce Freightliner's sales. But Freightliner's president and chief executive, Chris Patterson, said he still expected the coming year to be the third or fourth best in the company's history

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