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smart CEO: There is Strong Demand For Our fortwo Model

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FRANKFURT, May 4, 2008; Nicola Leske writing for Reuters reported that Daimler's minicar division Smart has increased sales by 80 percent since the launch of its second generation fortwo model in April 2007, its division head told a German daily.

"April has gone exceptionally well," Anders Jensen told Stuttgarter Zeitung in a preview of an interview to be published on Monday.

"We've delivered almost 13,000 cars to customers in that month," he said.

"We will clearly sell more cars this year than last, more than 100,000 units," Jensen said.

In 2007, Daimler sold 100,600 units of its Smart minicar including a four-door model, which is no longer available.

Smart pruned back its portfolio to save money and now only offers the two-door ForTwo model in its new product lineup.

The new ForTwo model went on sale in the United States this year and Jensen said the U.S. market launch had exceeded expectations.

"We have been surprised, that it went even better than we expected. Up to April 5,600 cars have been sold to customers," Jensen said.

"In the full year we will sell a lot more vehicles than originally planned," he added without giving details.

Jensen only said some 30,000 customers had reserved cars and that around 70 percent of customers followed up their reservation with a purchase.

Daimler also plans to sell its smart small car in China from next year.

Editing for Reuters by Richard Hubbard