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商业 - 汽车

Smart轿车在美销量撞墙

Doron Levin 2011年02月24日

这款车型有个热闹的开始,但过去的两年却很困难。在三年的时间里,Smart ForTwo共售出了45000辆,不过销售量却呈递减趋势。

 

    汽车大亨罗杰•彭斯克上周放弃了Smart牌微型车在美国的独家经销权。过你不必太为彭斯克感到难过。事实上,彭斯克上周三的这个决定赢得了投资者的一致喝彩。彭斯克汽车集团(Penske Automotive Group)的财务业绩也获得好评,集团股价几乎达到了三年以来的最高值。

    Smart ForTwo是戴姆勒集团(Daimler AG)生产的一款双座微型轿车,这款车型一直没能达到销售预期。在三年的时间里,该车型共售出了45000辆,不过销售量却呈递减趋势。彭斯克汽车集团的总部位于密歇根州布隆菲尔德山,该集团高级副总裁托尼•波尔顿表示:“这款车型有个热闹的开始,但过去的两年却很困难。”

    2008年,该集团的董事长兼首席执行官彭斯克代表公司买下了Smart汽车在美国的经销权,当时他坚信汽油价格将急剧上涨,而且经济将持续向好,不过最终这两个希望都没有成真。

    相反,汽油价格徘徊不前,经济举步维艰。美国汽车市场上还出现了许多与Smart竞争的小型车,如本田飞度(Honda Fit)、日产骐达(Nissan Versa)、福特嘉年华(Ford Fiesta)、丰田雅力士(Toyota Yaris)和雪佛兰乐骋(Chevrolet Aveo)等。这使问题变得更加复杂了。

    Smart轿车的起价还不到13000美元,而且它还提供了一款电池动力的版本,每次充电的续航里程为60至65英里。

    根据多次试驾的情况,笔者认为Smart是一款值得称道的车型,它具有驾驶的乐趣性,而且易于操控。对于城市居民来说,这款小车可以挤进哪怕是最狭窄的停车位。而且显然它非常节能(综合油耗为每加仑36英里)。安全测试也表明Smart的安全性不低于其他任何小型车。不过也有人持保留意见——它看起来不够大,在美国的公路上将显得格格不入。

    我们可以改编一下罗纳德•里根在一部低成本影片里的台词——“这台车剩下的部分哪儿去了?”(里根年轻时曾拍摄许多低成本影片,他在1942年的电影《King’s Row》里饰演了一名被截肢的年轻人,影片中他有一句台词是:“我剩下的身体哪儿去了?”——译注)Smart轿车看起来就像是被一把大斧砍掉了尾部。尽管美国的驾驶者愿意牺牲尺寸来换取经济性,但是他们不愿意让人看起来觉得可笑。

    彭斯克汽车集团在美国和英国经营大多数品牌的零售经销业务。此前该公司已经计划引入第二款Smart轿车,这是一款尺寸更大一些的掀背车,由日产汽车公司(Nissan)生产。由于彭斯克汽车集团决定将Smart抛回给戴姆勒,因此这起交易也随之取消了。戴姆勒集团则表示将继续在梅塞德斯-奔驰(Mercedes-Benz)的经销商那里销售Smart。

    2010年全年,彭斯克汽车集团的营收为107亿美元,其中利润为1.083亿美元,比2009年上升了41%,它的美国Smart部门去年亏损了1600万美元左右。这个结果超过了分析人士的预期,促使其他汽车零售商的股票也出现了回升。彭斯克集团自己的股票在2009年初一度跌破每股6美元,不过此后一直稳步上涨,至上周三收盘时已达到每股21美元。

    罗杰•彭斯克在接受路透社采访时表示,今年在买入新的经销权这个问题上,他将见机行事,并表示他正在与底特律的两家汽车制造商进行接洽,商讨购买美国品牌的汽车经销权的事宜,不过他拒绝透露这两家公司的名字。

    译者:朴成奎

    Don't feel too sorry for automotive mogul Roger Penske, who this week threw in the towel on the exclusive U.S. distribution rights for the Smart line of small cars. Investors were cheering his decision Wednesday, along with the financial results of Penske Automotive Group (PAG, Fortune 500), bidding shares nearly to a three-year high.

    The Smart ForTwo, a diminutive two-seater built by Daimler AG, simply never met sales expectations, reaching about 45,000 cars sold over a three-year period, but at a declining rate. "It had a rip-roaring start," said Tony Pordon, senior vice president for the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan company. "The last two years have been difficult."

    Penske, chairman and chief executive officer, bought the U.S. rights to sell Smart cars on behalf of his company in 2008 on the belief that gasoline prices would rise sharply higher and the economy would remain buoyant. Neither of those things happened.

    Instead, gasoline prices stagnated, the economy tanked and, complicating matters, the U.S. vehicle market has seen the proliferation of small-car competitors, such as the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris and Chevrolet Aveo.

    Smart, which starts at just under $13,000 in price, offered a battery-powered version, which had a range of 60 to 65 miles on a charge.

    Smart -- in this writer's opinion and based on a few test drives -- is an estimable model, fun to drive and easy to handle. For city dwellers the car can squeeze into the tightest parking spaces; and obviously it is fuel efficient (combined 36 miles-per-gallon). Safety tests suggested it is no less safe than any other small car. But -- and this reservation is key -- it simply doesn't look big enough to belong on the American road.

    Or, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan the actor in one of his B-movie roles: What happened to the rest of the car? Smart looks as though its rear had been lopped off with a giant ax. American drivers are willing to sacrifice size for economy -- they're not willing to look ridiculous.

    Penske, which operates retail dealerships of most brands in the U.S. and in the United Kingdom, had planned to add a second Smart model, a larger hatchback, built by Nissan. That deal was canceled along with the automotive company's decision to hand Smart back to Daimler. Daimler said it will continue to sell Smart at Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

    For all of 2010, Penske earned $108.3 million, a 41 percent increase from 2009, on revenue of $10.7 billion. Its Smart USA unit lost about $16 million for the year. The results beat analysts' expectations and prompted a rally in the shares of other auto retailers. After dipping below $6 a share in early 2009, Penske's stock has been marching steadily upward, hitting $21 a share at the close of trading on Wednesday.

    Roger Penske, in an interview with Reuters, said he would be "opportunistic" about buying additional dealerships this year and was negotiating with two Detroit automakers, whom he declined to identify, on deals to buy U.S.-brand franchises.

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