Smart cars to change track

Geneva, March 1:

German auto giant DaimlerChrysler could change course on the future of its troubled brand Smart before 2007 if the French-based divison misses intermediate business targets, group cha-irman Dieter Zetsche said.

Zetsche said the German parent group was now ‘very satisfied’ with Smart’s progress over the past year and its ‘very stable’ course.

“Smart is certainly a brand that developed strong value in an astonishingly short time,” Zetsche told journalists.

“On the other side we have lost lots of money and we must stop this situation. To be very clear, that must be the case in 2007. If we sense that this is not realistic, then we’ll have to look at alternatives,” he added.

Zetsche added that if intermediate targets laid out in a business plan for Smart’s future were ‘clearly missed’ and there were no recognisable way of making up for them, ‘then we would certainly have to react earlier’.

Smart is developing a successor to its flagship two-seat city car that is being engineered for a possible first foray into the US market.