Smart Car Starts Planning For ’06 Launch

DaimlerChrysler’s quirky Smart car won’t land in the U.S. until 2006, but sources said last week that Smart USA executives are already reaching out for ideas on their first offering: a new four-wheel drive SUV called Smart Formore.

The client, a division of Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz USA in Montvale, N.J., will seek strategic-positioning advice from a brand consultant before starting a search for an ad agency, according to sources.

While sources noted the plans are still very preliminary, one said, “They definitely want to go beyond ad agencies.”

Another source said the client is set to launch a review for a strategy consultant, which would be followed by an agency search, with the goal to have a shop in place by Jan. 1.

Client executives, including vp Dave Schembri and general manager Scott Keogh, could not be reached.

Launched in 1998 in Europe, the Smart line generally consists of small, sporty cars with high gas mileage. The initial Smart City-Coupé, which had only two seats, was designed by Swiss watch maker Swatch. The Formore SUV will feature “expressive design and a high utility value,” said Andreas Renschler, president of Smart gmbh in Böblingen, Germany, in a January statement.