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15,000 orders for Smart cars in US

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DaimlerChrysler has 15,000 orders for Smart cars in US - CEO

By Christoph Rauwald
Last Update: 3:28 PM ET May 23, 2007

Chief executive, Dieter Zetsche, said Wednesday that the company has received 15,000 orders for its Smart minicar in the U.S. so far.

"If we hadn't launched Smart in 1998 already, we ...would have to think about (launching) such a car today," Zetsche said during a press conference in Stuttgart.

Smart launched a new version of its tiny two-seater model this year and plans a U.S. debut for the brand in the first quarter of 2008. For the entry into the U.S. market, DaimlerChrysler signed a general distributor agreement with United Auto Group Inc. (UAG : united auto group inc com

According to a previous company statement, DaimlerChrysler estimates the U.S. "market potential" to be around 20,000 sales per year.

Following a wide-ranging restructuring program at Smart with painful losses, DaimlerChrysler aims to reach break-even at the division this year by focusing on the two-seater Fortwo model. The Fortwo is now the brand's only model after the company ceased production of a four-seater and a roadster model of the car.

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