Smart Roadster to be manufactured by Project Kimber
A UK-based consortium Project Kimber and the German-American corporation DaimlerChrysler AG have reportedly reached an agreement to continue their negotiations on the future of the Smart Roadster two-door sports car.
Based on a stretched platform of the already commercially viable Smart ForTwo, the new mini car was in production since 2003 till 2005 and enjoyed strong demand from the young customers seeking something new.
However, due to an unexpectedly low level of quality, the Smart Roadster proved to be a commercial failure, since the manufacturer just couldn’t cover the cost of tens of thousands warranty claims per year.
It seems that the British company hopes to solve the quality issues on its own and wants to use the now discontinued Smart Roadster as a starting point to resurrect the MG Rover brand.
Taking into account the fact that Project Kimber seeks the right to redesign and sell the Smart Roadster under ‘a different brand’, the assumption seems quite plausible.
An estimated price of the deal will probably be less than $17 million.
At this time, the company is also reported to be in talks over acquiring the Healey brand name from the family of the marque founder, Donald Healey, and if the deal goes right as planned, Project Kimber will start selling the its own eco-cars later next year.
What’s really interesting about this whole affair, is the Project Kimber plans to become the first virtual carmaker with just about all parts of the design, development and manufacturing process outsourced to third-party suppliers!
Only time will tell whether this kind of PC-era business model will survive in the cruel world of automotive business where the established brand’s credibility is more important to the customer than a new player’s torrent of innovations.