Europe's thermoplastic-clad minicar Smart is coming to the United States.
Smart's parent company, DaimlerChrysler AG of Stuttgart, Germany, announced June 28 that it will begin selling two-seat versions of the Smart in the U.S. in early 2008.
The car features GE Plastics' Xenoy polycarbonate/polyester resin on exterior panels. Owners can swap out the panels to change the look of their car.
DaimlerChrysler has made the Smart in Hambach, France, since 1998 and currently sells it in 26 countries, including Canada, although the unit has not turned a profit yet for the carmaker.
The car has not been widely available in the U.S. DaimlerChrylser had announced an earlier proposal to sell a small sport utility vehicle version of the Smart in the U.S., but both that car and the sales plan were shelved.
The new launch will focus on major city markets where the car's small size may win converts who have problems finding adequate parking for larger vehicles. The Smart's average fuel consumption of about 60 miles to the gallon also helps, DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said in a news release.
``The time has never been better for this - and I am convinced that the Smart for two as an innovative, ecological and agile city car will soon become just as familiar a sight on the streets of New York, Miami or Seattle as it is today in Rome, Berlin or Paris,'' he said.