Autos: Small Wasn't Smart

The minute commuter car has turned out to be an oversize drain on profits

It seemed like an extremely clever idea at the time: a stylish two-seater commuter car that would be ideal for city traffic, small enough to fit in the tiniest of parking spots and highly fuel efficient. It seems like an even better idea now. But 11 years after Mercedes dreamed up the idea with Nicholas Hayek, the creator of Swatch watches, the minute Smart car has become an oversize drain on the automaker's profits. In the first six months of this year, Mercedes plunged into the red because of a massive $1.3 billion restructuring charge it took for its Smart operations....

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