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Smart ForTwo Ventures into the Red States

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Washington DC February 22, 2008; The AIADA newsletter reported that the gas-sipping Smart ForTwo is surprising industry insiders by gaining popularity in some unexpected places not known for their green cred.

"People like to leave their SUVs at home and use the ForTwo to run errands around town," Kristin Gracey, sales manager for SmartCar in Knoxville, Tennessee explains.

While demand for the car is certainly strong in Phildadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Portland, and other congested blue-state cities, a dealership in LaVista, Nebraska, has some 250 cars on order. The ForTwo has many practical attributes, but it's not a car you'd expect to see sailing across the wide open spaces of the American prairie.

Then what's the appeal, if not gas mileage?

Jessica Gamarra, a marketing executive at Smart USA's headquarters, says that it's overwhelmingly bought as a second car "People are buying it for their second homes," says Gamarra.

"They haul it behind their RVs. They're buying it for their teenage drivers," she says. When asked to rate four key selling points - gas mileage, price, practicality (parking, maneuvering in traffic) and novelty - every dealer who spoke to Wired put novelty as its number one feature.