Mercedes-Benz dealers have been offered the Smart franchise. The first MB-UK dealer to be awarded the franchise, B&K Thomas in Nottingham began selling Smart today.
The move has come as a result of a review of Smart's retail operations which until now has been focussed on five sales centres, in Manchester, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and two in London and coincides with the introduction of righthand drive models in the UK.
A Smart spokeswoman said: “We only have five sales centres at the moment and while that will increase, the introduction of righthand drive models means we need a national sales network and a service network. Our network has been under review and it's been decided we offer the franchise to the MB-UK network. We aim to sell more than 5,000 cars at the sales centres and through MB-UK dealers this year. 3,000 had been sold to the end of September.”
She said that, like BMW dealers and the Mini, MB-UK dealers will have to provide separate Smart selling areas on their sites in order to maintain the brand separation. “Some investment is required. Sticking a Smart somewhere in the showroom is not acceptable, she said. Dealers will also receive 'Smart training'.
MB-UK dealers will only sell righthand drive models. The Smart spokeswoman could not confirm whether they would be selling used Smart cars.
The company is due to reveal more on the agreement next week.