Is It Smart To Buy A Smart?
At what price can hate turn into love?
I purchased this 2015 Smart ForTwo Passion with only 5,000 miles on it for $5700 last week.
Rarely am I shocked when the hammer goes down on a good deal at wholesale auction. But to leave this particular dealer auction, which regularly sells high end exotics and sports cars, with a low mileage car that's nearly brand new for only $5700? That was an amazing moment.
In case you didn't know, and you probably don't, Smart will no longer be selling the gas versions of the Smart ForTwo by the end of 2017. This means that their skeletal dealer network will be left with only an electric version with the Viagra inspired name Smart ED. The ED is thankfully Electric Drive, but in practice, this Smart will serve as a mobile doorstop and tax credit since its paltry 68 mile range leaves it doomed to become the least popular model in the United States. A dishonor that the now defunct Mitsubishi i-MiEV also endured for several years because it offered nearly the same level of daily immobility - but with twice the seats and nearly seven times the storage space of the Smart.
The Smart ForTwo has been an unqualified failure with Mercedes reportedly losing nearly $5 billion on the delusional belief that the wealthy wanted to buy brand new underpowered two-seaters, instead of a not-so-small army of bigger and more versatile compacts that offered similar fuel economy, but without the need for pricey premium fuel.
Right after a few thousand early adopters purchased the Smart, the brand was left with a design that simply couldn't gain so much as a raised eyebrow of interest. It got so bad that Mercedes decided to use the small army of unsold molderizing new cars for a carsharing service called CAR2GO.
It turned out to be great for Europe, but a hellish experiment for the US market. Singles and duets may do wonders for the record charts. But precious few folks in the USA wanted to drive a small two-seat car on a regular basis that was the rolling embodiment of German oom-pah music.
The mileage of these 2014 models reflected it. Many of these Smarts have only between 6,000 to 11,000 miles after nearly three years of service. Most of CAR2GO's direct competitors, such as Zipcar and Maven, register that level of mileage withing six months.
Even as short-term rentals, small cars like the Smart just don't sell. Mercedes wasn't alone in this epic miscalculation of consumer demand. The Scion iQ sold by Toyota experienced a similar level of crickets at the showroom floor. Before I bought that 5,000 mile Smart for a $5700 song and dance, I had purchased a 2012 Scion iQ for $5000 that had only 60,000 miles.
To be brutally blunt, I liked that iQ a lot as a suburban and in-town commuter. It was fun and zippy in an almost 1990s Geo Metro kinda way. Although I was regularly asked by my local mechanic, "Where did the other half go?". When he saw the Smart, his curt response was, "I hate those fucking things!".
Which brings on the question, "At what price can hate turn into love?", or at least one hell of a deal for those folks who consider their cars rolling spreadsheets. There will be 53 Smarts that will sell right down the street from me, and the Manheim Market Report has their wholesale selling price pegged at around $4,250 with anywhere from 6,000 to 12,000 miles on them.
Yes, you would have to pay an additional fee (all auctions levy a buyers fee that would be around $300) and it would probably cost a couple hundred more to get those cheesy decals removed and give it a healthy detail.
So let's say $5000 would be your total drive out on a 2014 Smart with only 8,000 miles on it.
Would that be worth it to you? Feel free to comment below, or visit here. I may just buy a few more this morning.