Four-door Smart car coming to the U.S.

smart_nissan_car_front.top.jpgSmart USA and Nissan released this sketch of a car the two companies may develop for the U.S. market. By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Smart USA, the company that sells the tiny Smart ForTwo in the United States, is working on an agreement with Nissan's North American arm to produce a bigger four-door car for sale here late next year.

"The new vehicle will expand Smart USA's product lineup, offering five-seat capacity while maintaining the core principles of efficiency and conservation," said Smart USA President Jill Lajdziak.

The new car will be a four-door hatchback. Smart USA released a sketch of the car, but no details about its exact size or technical specifications. The car will be available with either an automatic or manual transmission, Lajdziak said. Smart's only current product, the two-seat ForTwo, is available only with an automatic transmission.

Smart USA will work with Nissan on designing the car, Lajdziak said, which will be built by Nissan based on an existing Nissan small car. It will be sold only in the U.S.

Smart USA, which imports and sells Smart cars made by Diamler, is owned by the Penske Automotive Group (PAG, Fortune 500).

The agreement between Smart USA and Nissan is separate from the partnership announced earlier this year between Daimler and Nissan/Renault to create new products.

Smart USA could have waited for something to come out of that arrangement Lajdziak said, but the U.S. distributor wanted to move faster.

"This gave us the opportunity to bring something to the market in the near term," she said.

This would not be the first four-door car sold under the Smart brand, which used to sell a model called the ForFour in Europe.

This new car will not be called the ForFour, Lajdziak said. A name for the car will be announced later.

The Smart brand's 2008 entry into the U.S. market has, so far, resulted in disappointing sales.

Despite fuel economy of over 40 miles per gallon on the highway, and ease of parking -- the ForTwo can fit nose-to-the-curb in a space designed for parallel parking -- Smart sales peaked early, then plunged. So far in 2010, sales are running more than 60% below 2009. That year was one of the worst for auto sales.

Falling gas prices have been part of the problem, Lajdjiak said. When Smart first came to the U.S. gas prices were over $4 a gallon. They're now averaging about $2.75 a gallon, according to AAA. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,081.81 57.64 0.32%
Nasdaq 4,786.71 21.29 0.45%
S&P 500 2,087.05 4.88 0.23%
Treasuries 2.29 0.03 1.51%
Data as of Dec 24
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 18.04 0.12 0.64%
Gilead Sciences Inc 92.34 2.89 3.23%
General Electric Co 25.71 -0.17 -0.66%
Cisco Systems Inc 28.57 0.32 1.13%
Apple Inc 112.22 -0.32 -0.28%
Data as of Dec 24

Sections

The city's sanitation commissioner is expected to decide whether recycling foam containers is "environmentally effective" and "economically feasible," by January 1, 2015. More

Cheap gas spreads with a half dozen states poised to join Missouri offering drivers gas for less than $2 a gallon. More

"This is my worse nightmare," wrote the CEO of AsiaAir after Flight 8501 went missing on Sunday. More

According to data from Google Trends and GrubHub, Chinese food remains the most popular type of food order on Christmas. More

With rents expected to continue to rise faster than incomes, many Millennials may finally start looking to buy homes next year. What they will find are much more favorable conditions. Here's what to expect in 2015's housing market. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.