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Smart eyes network growth as it prepares for start of #1 sales

Smart is planning to expand its UK agency dealer network from 23 to 36 sites, in the coming years, to support its growth ambition.

The car brand’s all-new #1 electric crossover will officially go on sale at the end of August, marking a fresh start for the company.

Smart sales have dwindled in the last few years as a result of its ageing model line-up. The brand received a lifeline in 2019, when Geely bought a 50% stake in it from Mercedes-Benz.

The two car giants have since worked together to develop the all-new #1, which used a Geely platform and powertrain coupled with the Mercedes designed body and interior.

Volume aspirations are strong. David Browne, UK chief executive of Smart, told AM he hopes the brand’s UK sales will climb by 2025 to the level of 8,000-to-12,000 units, which Smart last achieved in 2016.

A network of 23 agency sites has been established, initially, which is around half the number of Smart branded dealerships that existed 10 years ago.

Smart expects the number of dealers to grow to 36 as its sales ramp up.

The brand has secured an initial allocation of 4,000 #1 vehicles, to last it until the end of 2023.

At a recent launch event for the vehicle, AM learnt that Smart expects to deliver vehicles in 2-3 weeks and will utilise short lead times as a key driver of sales.

The bulk of Smart #1s are expected to be sold via leasing channels, in line with the market. Currently around 70% of premium electric cars are sold this way.

Graeme Jenkins, UK fleet manager for Smart, confirmed that all vehicle supply will be directed through its dealers and Smart will not make any direct supply arrangements.

He added: “Our current agents have been hugely supportive of our journey and are very receptive to fleet sales. They understand the journey.”

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