1993: Swatch watch inventor, Nicolas Hayek, takes his ideas for an "ultra-urban" car to Mercedes-Benz and a joint venture is born.
1994: Mercedes-Benz engineers take on this challenge with a full development concept car.
1997: The smart fortwo vehicle debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show, with a fantastic response.
1998: This leads to full production of the fortwo at the "Smartville" plant in Hambach, France. The smart fortwo cars were being bought in Europe and were finding a home on the small roads and tight parking spaces.
2006: Plans were put in place to make the 2nd generation smart fortwo and introduce it to the United States.
2007: A smart USA division was created and is a division of the Penske Automotive Group headed by Roger Penske. They are the exclusive distributors of the smart fortwo in America, with 74 smartcenters located throughout the country.
Smart sales might not be as crazy now as they were in early 2008, but the smart car is definitely gaining popularity here all the time. Here's what the smartUSA website has to say about its success it America
"The key to the initial success in America is the realization that the smart fortwo is the right car at the right time. Shortly after launch, the price of fuel in the U.S. skyrocketed and fuel prices continue to fluctuate today. Combined with efforts to be environmentally responsible and finding solutions for urban congestion, the smart fortwo quickly became an attractive vehicle option for many American consumers."
... and ...
"The smart fortwo buyer is characterized by take charge people, typically early adopters, who make a statement about who they are through the products they buy."