Smart…..The death and return of the brand to the U.S.
Born from watches and bread in the same place as some of the best luxury cars, the Smart brand would seem to be coming from the best place it could. Well that was also said about Edsel and DeLorean, and we know what happened to them. Created as a way to escape the big car deal, without lowering its brand image, Daimler-Benz seemed poised to take on the word of small cars with its Smart brand. Although we have seen where the small car market has would up lately.
Maybe it was the marketing of the car, or maybe it could have been its price tag. Whatever it was, something just didn’t seem to click with consumers about this small car. Some people loved it, and others couldn’t be bothered by it. Yes there are lots of cars like this, but know as important as the Smart is to Daimler. Why would you ask that we say it is important. Well, if Daimler wants to reap the rewards of the small car industry, without damaging its Mercedes brand, then it would be best to start a new division. It work in the early 20th century with Ford’s, Mercury brand and Chrysler’s, Plymouth brand. But we all know how those stories wound up.
But of course if any one in the world could turn up the heat on the small car industry, then why not one of the oldest automotive companies in the world. Well for starters it is always easier to move up a ladder, not down. And when you’re near the top of the ladder trying to move a part of you down, it’s going to take some time. And on top of that, when you’re as big as Daimler-Benz trying to move down, then you’re going to have major problems.
Know why haven’t other companies had as many problems doing this as Daimler has. Well for starters, BMW bought a widely known inexpensive nameplate and moved it up a bit. And Audi is still known as being part of the Volkswagen group, a company known for making small efficient cars. But when your Daimler trying to do this, you have no past in small cheap efficient cars and you certainly don’t own any cheap automotive nameplates anymore.
It would seem that if Daimler had kept the Chrysler group around for awhile longer, they might have seen that they could have leverage the nameplate for smaller cheaper cars. Well at least within the European and Middle Eastern marketplaces. It would have been a hard sell back home in North America. Utilizing the now defunct Plymouth nameplate, Daimler could have revitalized the name as a new small car division. And why could they had done this, well its simple, Plymouth never really had a specific place at Chrysler. It was always the other car division. Sure it had some great cars in its history, but it never really had its own image. Of course this could also be said about the Mercury and Saturn brands as well.
In creating a new image for Plymouth, you could have saved millions. There was already a dealer network, well known name and strong following within the U.S. And considering you would be saving an American icon, they would have a great marketing ploy on their hands.
It seems hard to believe that in a car crazed nation, a small efficient auto company cannot keep their head above water, when the price of gas is on the rise. Other companies are seeing the rewards of small efficient cars, but still Smart cannot make enough to warrant staying in this marketplace. Maybe if they take a strong look at how American perceive the Daimler-Benz brand, then maybe they will see the error of their ways. Or maybe they will reconsider they’re way of advertising the brand.
May 11, 2011