Yet another story about Damiler Chrysler "leaning" towards selling Smart cars in the US. Come on already. How hard is this decision? Load a boat and test the waters. I know it's more complicated then that but there are enough marketing angles to pursue that it seems a no brainer to get in the game before an established automaker(Honda, Toyota/Scion, Nissan) makes and markets a competing vehicle.
A few moves I would make:
Urban Drivers - Build Dealership/Parking Garages in major city centers. Utilize automated parking garage technology to emphasize the space saving nature of the Smart car design. A vending machine for cars. Partner with real estate developers to design Smart parking into high-rise residential properties. Include Smart cars with the purchase of a unit.
Suburban Drivers - Create special discounted Smart only parking areas at or near airports to encourage sales of Smart cars as airport cars for frequent travelers. Why pay to fuel and then store your SUV at the airport all week? Partner with builders and real estate agents and demonstrate how Smart cars can maximize garage space and even turn one car garages into two car garages.
Super Commuters - Build a community network and provide mobile entertainment (like BMW audiobooks) content aimed to appeal to those commuting extreme distances. Focus on fuel efficiency and highway safety.
Tuners/Teens - Embrace the community of auto customizers that will be eager to trick out their new Smart. Find ways to create models and options that appeal to the teen and twenty something market. Focus on cool, fuel savings and safety.
Special Markets - Design custom versions of the Smart that are suitable for Little People, Big People, marketing platforms, delivery operations even police use.
Embrace and Support the Secondary Market - Develop a certified pre-owned Smart program that will encourage the trade and residual value of Smart Cars and thereby support the primary market by assuring buyers of the resale value of their vehicles and bring new customers to the brand through the ownership of a used vehicle. A certified preowned program will encourage two car families to add a Smart car for commuting/airport/teenager use.
The bottom line is the fuel crunch is on in America and just as the fuel crisis of the 70s opened the door for fuel efficient imports the door is open again for fuel and space efficient vehicles.