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New Smart Chief Hopes to Revive Slumping Sales

Lajdziak says turnaround won’t require second car.

by on Jan.12, 2010

After dropping 38% in volume, last year, new Smart boss Jill Lajdziak sees opportunities for a turnaround.

Smart’s new U.S. boss says she’s confident the brand can turn itself around after suffering a devastating sales decline of nearly 40% in 2009.  And it won’t take the addition of a second model, insisted Jill Lajdziak, though the subsidiary of Germany’s Daimler AG is reportedly looking at such an alternative.

In her first public comments since replacing former Smart President Dave Schembri, earlier this month, Lajdziak acknowledged that the company has faced some serious problems over the last 12 months that won’t be easy to resolve.

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During 2008, Smart sold 24,622 copies of its pint-sized fortwo, a figure that plunged 38% in 2009.  Lajdziak discounted concerns that the 2-seater is suffering from product design problems, countering that the situation facing the company was “very different” in 2009 from the year before, when it staged a much-delayed entry into the U.S. market.