"With gas prices looking at $4 a gallon this summer, this is perfect timing".
Dow Jones - May 9, 2007
"The market is crying for a car like this - or thirsting, if you will," says Penske of the UAG, who has long-standing ties to DaimlerChrysler.
DETROIT - United Auto Group Inc. (UAG), the nation's second largest auto retailer, said Wednesday that in just over five weeks it has received $99 deposits from 12,600 people eager to be among the first buyers of DaimlerChrysler AG's (DCX) two-seat Smart "fortwo" mini car when it hits U.S. showrooms in 2008.
United Auto Group, which owns the Smart USA division of DaimlerChrysler's Smart unit, kicked off a program in March that offers people the opportunity to be a Smart "insider" and get on a waiting list in return for a refundable $99 deposit. United Auto Group Vice President Tony Pordon said the company has seen considerable interest in the product due to a growing demand for fuel-efficient cars and a continued interest in unique cars.
"With fuel prices escalating and this car promising 40 miles per gallon, they're looking at it as an economical way to be able to adapt to changes in the marketplace," Pordon said in a telephone interview. Smart vehicles are slated to have a base price below $12,000.
United Auto Group, in cooperation with DaimlerChrysler, is doing what many " gray market" distributors have been attempting to do for years in sparking American interest in Smart cars, which are about the size of golf carts but more technologically advanced than many of the cars already on U.S. roads. While Smart products are dwarfed by most vehicles, they are certified with four-star crash worthiness