Smart Cars for ZAP on Their Way; DaimlerChrysler Leaning toward Direct Entry
26 February 2006
G&K Auto Conversion is completing the conversion of several hundred Smart Cars at its facility in Santa Ana, California to be purchased and distributed by ZAP. In addition, G&K will be delivering eighty-five Smart Cars owned by ZAP within the week.
G&K is in agreement with ZAP to modify the DaimlerChrysler Smart Cars for US standards and ZAP expects to deliver cars to ZAP licensed dealers shortly. The two-seater city car uses a 60hp, 698-cc 3-cylinder, rear-mounted turbo engine.
ZAP, which announced the Americanized version of the Smart car in February 2005, built up a large order backlog, but has had some issues with fulfillment. (Earlier post.)
G&K has obtained all necessary EPA and DOT certifications for model year 2005 and 2006 Smart Cars to meet US forty-five State standards. Certification for the remaining five States—California, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont—is underway.
News reports from Florida and Colorado have announced two separate business ventures claiming to be importing Smart Cars. G&K owner George Gemayel, states that G&K is the only entity approved to import and modify Smart Cars for the US market. G&K does not have a distribution agreement with the Florida or Colorado businesses.
Separately, however, DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche told the German newspaper Handelsblatt that the company is leaning in favor of launching the Smart minicar brand in the United States.
It is now more likely that we will decide in favor of, rather than against the US. The last word is, however, not yet spoken.
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